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By any standard, 2002 has been a challenging year. The nation is still recovering from the shock of last year's terrorist attacks, and the economy remains in the dumps.
Nevertheless, there seems to be no slowing in the steady advances in workplace protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. An increasing number of companies is offering same-sex couples employee benefits that are equivalent to those offered heterosexual pairs, including health care, financial assistance for adoptions, and parental and bereavement leave.
Today, the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which rates 319 companies--including 208 Fortune 500 companies--on their overall workplace policies toward GLBT employees, finds that 92%, or 293 companies, have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation. And 221 employers, about 69% of those in the index, offer domestic-partner benefits for employees' same-sex mates. What's more, 12 Fortune 500 companies now include protections for transgendered employees in their nondiscrimination policies, more than double the number of companies that did so in 2001.
"Many of these changes have come from within major companies where transgendered people are coming out in the workplace and asking for equal treatment," says Kim Mills, education director for Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group HRC. "It is like gay issues were [in the workplace] 10 or 15 years ago."
The Advocate has compiled a list of 10 good places for gay men and lesbians to work, adding to a list of 44 companies the magazine has put together in the past three years. This list uses research compiled by HRC's Corporate Equality Index as a starting point. (HRC acquired the Gay and Lesbian Values Index in October 2001 and switched its 10-point annual rating system--formulated by Grant Lukenbill, a journalist and researcher of corporate responsibility--to a 100-point system.)
To derive a score, points are assigned to seven criteria, such as whether the company has a written nondiscrimination policy covering sexual orientation, offers same-sex domestic-partner health care benefits, conducts gay-sensitive advertising, and does not support antigay groups or groups seeking to repeal legislative protections for gays and lesbians. This year 13 companies received a perfect score.
The following is not meant to be a list of the 10 best places in the United States to work. It is meant to be a list of 10 corporations that have made significant advances in their attitudes toward GLBT employees.
Aetna, Hartford, Conn. 2001 revenues: $25.2 billion Employees: 32,000 2002 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 74 HRC score: 100
The health insurance giant added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy last year and has offered domestic-partner benefits since 1993, the same year its gay employees group , the Aetna Network of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Employees (or ANGLE) was founded. Benefits offered same-sex couples are equivalent to those offered straight couples. Employees also can designate their same-sex partners as beneficiaries of their pension plans. Aetna gives extensively to breast cancer and AIDS groups and also provides its HMO doctors with ongoing education on gay and lesbian medical issues.
Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif. 2001 revenues: $45.2 billion (H-P only) Employees: 147,000 (postmerger) U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 28 HRC score: 86
Despite its complicated merger with Compaq in 2001, the computer hardware manufacturing giant has made significant strides in the past few years toward making its corporate environment a good place for gays and lesbians. The company has a written nondiscrimination policy covering sexual orientation and offers domestic-partner medical benefits. In addition, gay employees can designate their partners as beneficiaries of their retirement plans and are entitled to bereavement leave, long-term medical care, and financial assistance for adoptions as well as relocation benefits. Hewlett-Packard has been a longtime supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently pending in Congress and has sponsored the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's Media Awards and the Out and Equal business conference. The company also has sponsored gay pride parades and festivals throughout North America. J.P. Morgan Chase, New York City 2001 revenues: $50.4 billion Employees: 96,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 21 HRC score: 100
The recently merged financial services giant, which takes its new name from investment firm J.P. Morgan and consumer banking colossus Chase, added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy in 2002, and J.P. Morgan included sexual orientation three years ago (the merged company went with J.P. Morgan's policy). All benefits offered gay employees and their partners are equivalent to those offered straight employees, including a $3,000-per-child adoption benefit and bereavement and family leave. The company's diversity training for employees is ongoing and aggressive, including a basic awareness training session supplemented by mandatory refresher classes every 18 months that all include information about sexual orientation. The company advertises in gay and lesbian media, both locally and nationally, and it supports a large variety of GLBT organizations, including Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, HRC, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, as well as breast cancer and AIDS causes.
Mitchell Gold, Taylorsville, N.C. 2001 sales: More than $70 million Employees: 556 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC score: 86
Steamy ads with half-dressed young men on sofas are not this trendy furniture maker's only forte. The company was founded by Mitchell Gold, who is openly gay, and his business partner, Bob Williams, in 1989, and its nondiscrimination policy includes both gender identity and sexual orientation. Mitchell Gold has had domestic-partner benefits for both gay and straight employees for years. The company gives to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, North Carolina Equality, HRC, Empire State Pride Agenda, and various AIDS charities. Though the company does not have a gay employee group, Gold says about 5% of employees and many of the top managers are gay.
NCR, Dayton, Ohio 2001 revenues: $5.9 billion Employees: 30,445 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 304 HRC score: 100
This manufacturer of automated teller machines and point-of-sale terminals added protection for transgendered employees to its nondiscrimination policy nearly two years ago. Gay and straight employees receive equal benefits, including relocation benefits and job search assistance for employees' partners. It also has an adoption benefit of $2,500 per child and unpaid parental leave of up to 16 weeks. Diversity training, which includes information on sexual orientation, is ongoing, and senior management takes an active role in it. The company supports gay groups locally through individual NCR offices, has sponsored the Dayton pride parade, and gives to local AIDS and breast cancer groups. NCR actively recruits gay and lesbian employees at college campuses and has been a longtime supporter of ENDA.
Nike, Beaverton, Ore. Fiscal 2002 revenues: $9.9 billion Employees: 22,700 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 204 HRC score: 100
The athletic gear giant claims to have cleaned up its act regarding overseas labor issues, and it began including transgendered employees in its nondiscrimination policy starting in 2001. Nike has had domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples since 1994, and all other benefits are equal for gay and straight employees, including a $3,000-per-child adoption benefit. The company has done some gay-targeted advertising in national media, including the television spot of gay HIV-positive runner Ric Munoz. Ads also currently appear on gay-themed TV shows. Nike supports Basic Rights Oregon, HRC, and a variety of local AIDS organizations. Additionally, it has sponsored The Sexual Minority Youth Recreation Center in Portland, Ore., and this year's inaugural Mark Kendall Bingham Cup Rugby Tournament and Festival in San Francisco. Nike also supports ENDA.
Pacific Gas and Electric Corp., San Francisco 2001 revenues: $22.96 billion Employees: 22,600 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 87 HRC score: 86
Erin Brockovich may have found some problems here, but the company's gay and lesbian employees seem happy. PG&E's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation as well as gender identity (included this year), and a number of openly transgendered people work at the company. Benefits are equal for straights and gays; they include paid bereavement leave for same-sex partners, which the company instituted back in the 1980s. PG&E has ongoing diversity management training that includes information on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it actively supports its gay employees group. The company has sponsored San Francisco's Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center and various AIDS groups, and has donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It also gives scholarships to high school students who have supported gay and lesbian causes. The company has gay people in upper management and advertises in the local gay press. In past years it has sponsored a bus advertising campaign in support of gay and lesbian youth organizations. PG&E also is a longtime supporter of ENDA.
Pfizer, New York City 2001 revenues: $32.26 billion Employees: 90,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 49 HRC score: 86
When the manufacturer of such well-known products as Visine, BenGay, Listerine, and Viagra merged with Warner-Lambert in 2000, it became one of the top five drugmakers in most world markets. It has offered domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples since 2002, but its nondiscrimination policy--which includes sexual orientation--still does not cover gender identity. All other benefits are the same for gay and straight employees, including an adoption benefit of $10,000 per child. The company actively supports its gay group, but diversity training for new hires is not mandatory. Pfizer supports local AIDS and breast cancer groups, and it sponsors the Lansing, Mich., pride parade, National Coming Out Day events, and PFLAG. The company advertises its AIDS drug Viracept in national and local gay media and it actively recruits gay and lesbian employees at college job fairs.
Replacements Ltd., Greensboro, N.C. 2000 revenues: $72 million Employees: 600 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC score: 100
Looking to replace the dish you broke from your mother's china collection? You might turn to this gay-owned, gay-operated china, crystal, silver, and collectibles company, which can teach a lot of Fortune 500 companies a lesson about fair and equal treatment of employees. Most of the company's upper management is openly gay, says president Bob Page, and gay issues are frequently discussed in management meetings. The company's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation as well as gender identity, and all employee benefits are equal regardless of employees' sexual orientation, including an adoption stipend of $5,000 per child. The company provides periodic diversity training. It has unisex rest rooms to guarantee that transgendered employees feel comfortable. Replacements actively supports gay and lesbian community groups, including HRC, GLSEN, local AIDS organizations, the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and pride parades throughout North Carolina.
Worldspan, Atlanta 2001 revenues: Over $500 million Employees: 3,500 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: Does not apply HRC score: 100
The online booking engine for Web sites Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline is a partnership among Delta, Northwest, and American airlines. Its nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Benefits for all employees and their partners are equal, including an adoption benefit of $5,000 per child and bereavement leave. Employees also can designate partners as beneficiaries. Diversity training is mandatory for all employees and is ongoing in the form of monthly lunch forums. The company sponsors HRC, AIDS walks in Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., the Atlanta pride festival, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Worldspan also supports ENDA.