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Where to work

Where to work


The Advocate adds 10 firms to its list of the top gay-friendly employers in the country

For many people, this year has been a tough one in which to even find a job. Despite the record high unemployment levels, though, gay people have continued to make significant strides in corporate America--by gaining both written protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and better access to domestic-partner benefits.

Considering these gains, The Advocate has again compiled a list of 10 of the best places for gay people to work. The list considers information companies submitted to the magazine and uses research published in the Human Rights Campaign 2003 Corporate Equality Index, which ranks 362 companies of varying sizes on a scale of 0-100.

To calculate its scores, HRC assigns points based on seven criteria, such as whether the company has a written nondiscrimination policy for sexual orientation, if it offers same-sex domestic-partner benefits, if it conducts GLBT-sensitive advertising campaigns, and if it avoids support of antigay groups.

This year HRC gave 21 of the largest companies in the United States perfect scores of 100, nearly twice as many companies as in 2002. One of the biggest areas of progress this year was in protection against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. In 2002 only 15 of the Fortune 500 companies surveyed by HRC included gender identity or expression in their written nondiscrimination policies. This year 22 companies--9% of the 250 Fortune 500 companies in the index--do.

Four of the companies with perfect scores examined by The Advocate this year are financial services firms. These companies "in particular are interested in building a GLBT customer base," explains HRC's Kim Mills, "and in order to do that, you have to have your own house in order."

The following is not meant to be a list of the 10 best places to work in the United States, but rather 10 places that have enlightened workplace practices and protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered employees.

Bank One, Chicago 2002 revenues: $16.8 billion, Employees: 73,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 79, HRC score: 100

The sixth-largest bank in the United States is good at more than just providing checking and savings accounts--it is one of the few Fortune 500 companies to include gender identity as well as sexual orientation in its written nondiscrimination policy. The company offers the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners as it does married partners, including bereavement leave, relocation benefits, and an adoption benefit that reimburses couples up to $3,500 per adopted child. Partners of gay employees are also eligible for pensions in the event of the employee's death. Bank One has an officially sanctioned gay employee group called Eagle One, and the company supports AIDS walks and pride parades in its major business centers, including Chicago; Indianapolis; Phoenix; Columbus, Ohio; and Wilmington, Del. Additionally, it sponsors Equality Illinois, the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization, and the Out & Equal conference. Bank One also actively markets its deposit and investment products to gay customers.

Bausch & Lomb, Rochester, N.Y. 2002 revenues: $1.8 billion, Employees: 11,500 U.S. Fortune 1,000 ranking: 721, HRC score: 100

The eye care company was an early supporter of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress. It also includes both sexual orientation and gender identity in its written antidiscrimination protections and provides benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Those benefits include free contact lenses and membership in the company's fitness center as well as bereavement leave and coverage of relocation expenses for partners. The company's official gay employee group, GLOB&L, was founded in 1995. Bausch & Lomb has aggressive, ongoing, and mandatory diversity training for all employees, which covers sexual identity and gender expression. Beneficiaries of corporate giving include AIDS Rochester, the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, Image Out (Rochester's lesbian and gay film festival), and the Rochester and Tampa, Fla., pride parades. In 2002 the company also sponsored the Rochester Gay Alliance's youth group.

Borders Group, Ann Arbor, Mich. 2002 revenues: $3.4 billion, Employees: 32,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 446, HRC score: 86

Not only a giant in the book, music, and video retail business, Borders also has progressive policies for all of its employees, including its GLBT segment. It formally bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it has offered domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples and their dependent children since 1996. Borders also reimburses $3,000 for the adoption of one child and $4,000 total for sibling group adoptions. The company does not have an official gay employee group, opting instead for a companywide diversity task force that encompasses all minorities. It has diversity training for all employees, which includes the topic of sexual orientation. The company has supported many local events and causes, such as gay pride parades in San Francisco and Chicago and AIDS Walk San Francisco, and is a paying member of the Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It officially celebrated Gay Pride Month this past June by offering a "diversity book club" for employees, featuring free copies of books with gay and lesbian subject matter.

Capital One Financial, McLean, Va. 2002 revenues: $9.6 billion, Employees: 18,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 191, HRC score: 100

One of the largest issuers of credit cards, Capital One also boasts an openly lesbian top executive--executive vice president of operations Marge Connelly. The company's workplace protections and benefits for gay employees are comprehensive and rich, including a written nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as well as domestic-partner benefits for all unmarried couples. An early supporter of ENDA, Capital One currently offers adoption planning services for all employees, and it will also offer an adoption benefit of up to $5,000 per child in January. The company officially recognized June as LGBT pride month by holding a diversity discussion for all employees via teleconference with Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign. Its diversity training covers gay issues, and Capital One recently held a special transgender education session to support an employee who transitioned. The company's corporate giving and sponsorship aids such groups as the Family Pride Coalition, the Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth in Virginia, HRC, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Cingular Wireless, Atlanta 2002 revenues: $14.7 billion, Employees: 35,000 U.S. Fortune 1,000 ranking: Does not apply, HRC score: 86

The nation's second-largest wireless telecommunications company was founded in 2000 from merged domestic wireless units of BellSouth and SBC, and it is already making strides in its protections and benefits for gay and lesbian employees. Its nondiscrimination policy currently includes sexual orientation, though not yet gender identity. Since 2001 it has had domestic-partner benefits for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, such as medical, vision, dental, and dependent life insurance; employee scholarships; bereavement leave; and financial assistance for adoptions in the amount of up to $5,000 per child, among other benefits. The company has recently formed a gay employee group to accompany those for other minorities. Corporate giving includes sponsorship of the Human Rights Campaign, Georgia Equality, AIDS Walk Atlanta, and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, plus support of various pride events and parades across the country, including those in Seattle and Boca Raton, Fla. Its Knoxville, Tenn., office has donated to the local Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation fund-raiser.

Deutsche Bank European HQ: Frankfurt, Germany U.S. HQ: New York City 2002 revenues: $30 billion, Employees: 77,000 U.S. Fortune 1,000 ranking: Does not apply, HRC score: 100

This German bank's involvement in the United States is significant as it is one of the largest financial services providers globally, with about 13 million customers in 76 countries. The bank has had domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples since 1998, and its nondiscrimination policy includes both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All employees can receive up to $5,000 per adopted child and 12 weeks of paid family leave for the primary caregiver. Its U.S. gay employee group is called the Rainbow Group Americas, officially recognized by the company and publicized through a corporate Intranet site. Deutsche Bank supports gay and AIDS groups almost too numerous to mention, including the Hetrick-Martin Institute, New York Community Trust-New York City AIDS Fund, and God's Love We Deliver. In a matching grant program for employees who raise funds for charities, Deutsche Bank has also supported the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, among others. Managerial diversity training includes issues dealing with sexual orientation. The company also does gay-focused advertising and says it will start actively recruiting openly gay and lesbian employees this fall.

Hyatt Hotels, Chicago 2002 revenues: $3.2 billion, Employees: 40,000 U.S. Fortune 1,000 ranking: Does not apply, HRC score: 86

One of the biggest hotel operators in the United States, Hyatt has had domestic-partner benefits for same- and opposite-sex partners since 1997 as well as a written policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation. The company says it plans to include gender identity in that policy soon. All benefits offered to straight couples are offered to same-sex couples, including bereavement leave, relocation expenses, and the right to designate a partner as a pension plan beneficiary. Partners also can receive Hyatt's reduced employee rates for hotel stays. The company has no official gay employee group, but it does have a diversity council aimed at all minority needs. The company sponsors the Human Rights Campaign and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Lehman Brothers, New York City 2002 revenues: $16.8 billion, Employees: 12,000 worldwide U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 109, HRC score: 100

This investment bank is a major global player in the financial markets and has recently become more accepting of its gay employees. Lehman Brothers' nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and it has domestic-partner benefits for both same- and opposite-sex partners. Other benefits include allowing employees to designate a same-sex partner as a pension plan beneficiary. The investment bank has an officially sanctioned gay employee group called the Lehman Brothers Gay and Lesbian Network, and it aggressively recruits openly gay and lesbian employees from leading business schools. Recipients of corporate philanthropy include New York City's Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Metropolitan Life Insurance, New York City 2002 revenues: $34 billion, Employees: 47,000 U.S. Fortune 500 ranking: 38, HRC score: 100

MetLife, the life insurance and financial services giant, has had domestic-partner benefits for both same- and opposite-sex partners since 2002, and this year it added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy. Sexual orientation has been included in that policy for more than three years. MetLife officially sanctions its gay employee organization, called the MetLife Gay and Lesbian Employee Group. The company has sponsored the New York City Gay Life Expo, the International Gay and Lesbian Business and Entertainment Festival, the Out & Equal conference, and pride events in New Jersey and Colorado. The company also does gay-specific advertising in the gay and mass media as well as in its product brochures. MetLife says it also works with gay vendors who supply business services to the company.

Morrison and Foerster, San Francisco 2002 revenues: More than $500 million, Employees: 2,200 U.S. Fortune 1,000 ranking: Does not apply, HRC score: 100

Primarily known for its intellectual property and corporate finance expertise, this law firm has also worked on prominent cases such as Lawrence v. Texas, for which it filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this spring. Its highest executive--the company uses the term "chair" rather than chairman--is Keith Wetmore, an openly gay man. The law firm has full domestic-partner benefits for same- and opposite-sex couples and a written nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation as well as gender identity.

Morrison and Foerster has aggressive diversity training efforts, and the firm invites GLBT employees to meet confidentially with facilitators to address issues. In addition to medical, vision, dental, life insurance, and long-term care, the firm also allows anyone, including domestic partners, to be a beneficiary in the company retirement plan, and provides paid family leave for adoptions to employees. It has a gay employees group commonly known as Mofo Homos.

The firm's list of funding beneficiaries is too extensive to enumerate completely, but it has included the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, AIDS Housing Alliance of Sacramento, the California AIDS Ride, the Bay Area's Pride Law Fund, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. It also does pro bono work involving gay concerns.

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