Friends in high places

The Washington Times Weekly - - International Perspective -

The re­cent de­ci­sion by Hall­mark Com­pany to sell greet­ing cards cel­e­brat­ing gay mar­riage was all over the news re­cently. But the news re­ally should have come as no sur­prise. As an ex­haus­tive re­port re­leased Sept. 2 by the gay rights lobby Hu­man Rights Cam­paign known as The Cor­po­rate Equal­ity In­dex 2009 (CEI) shows, ma­jor-brand cor­po­ra­tions are more pro-gay than ev­ery be­fore:

In step with the CEI’s trend line of up­ward growth, the num­ber of top-rated busi­nesses [par­tic­i­pat­ing] reached an un­prece­dented 259 this year — 64 more than last year, to­tal­ing over 9.3 mil­lion full­time em­ploy­ees work­ing for 100 per­cent rated busi­nesses. Many busi­nesses are also seek­ing out prac­tices to fur­ther dis­tin­guish their work­places be­yond the min­i­mum bench­marks.

[The re­port is com­piled mainly from re­sponses to an ex­ten­sive ques­tion­naire cov­er­ing all as­pects of a com­pany’s deal­ing with gay em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers and causes. Among the ques­tions on the 2009 sur­vey were the fol­low­ing]:

Does your pri­mary non-dis­crim­i­na­tion or equal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity pol­icy state­ment in­clude the terms “gen­der iden­tity or ex­pres­sion” or “gen­der iden­tity”?

[I]s there at least one firm­spon­sored in­sur­ance plan that does not ex­clude cov­er­age (trans­gen­der treat­ment cov­ered) for med­i­cally-nec­es­sary treat­ment re­lated to gen­der dys­pho­ria or gen­der re­as­sign­ment?

Does your busi­ness have writ­ten gen­der tran­si­tion guide­lines doc­u­ment­ing sup­port­ive pol­icy or prac­tice on is­sues per­ti­nent to a work­place gen­der tran­si­tion?

Does your busi­ness have a firm-wide di­ver­sity coun­cil or work­ing group with a mis­sion that specif­i­cally in­cludes GLBT di­ver­sity?

If you pro­vide di­ver­sity aware­ness or em­ployee train­ing, what top­ics are cov­ered and who is re­quired to at­tend?

[The re­port broke down the num­bers in nu­mer­ous ways, such as]:

SEX­UAL ORI­EN­TA­TION Sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion is gen­er­ally de­fined as an in­di­vid­ual’s en­dur­ing phys­i­cal, ro­man­tic, emo­tional and/or spir­i­tual at­trac­tion to an­other per­son.

99% of CEI-rated em­ploy­ers pro­vide em­ploy­ment pro­tec­tions on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. GEN­DER IDEN­TITY Gen­der iden­tity is gen­er­ally de­fined as an in­di­vid­ual’s in­ter­nal, per­sonal sense of be­ing a man or a woman. For trans­gen­der peo­ple, their birth-as­signed sex and their own in­ter­nal sense of gen­der iden­tity do not match.

66% of CEI-rated em­ploy­ers pro­vide em­ploy­ment pro­tec­tions on the ba­sis of gen­der iden­tity or ex­pres­sion, the high­est fig­ure to date. The ex­pan­sion of th­ese pro­tec­tions has been re­mark­able; growth from the 2002 CEI has been 12-fold, when just 5 per­cent of CEI-rated em­ploy­ers in­cluded gen­der iden­tity pro­tec­tions in 2002.

LGBT Em­ployee Re­source Groups and Di­ver­sity Coun­cils

78% of CEI-rated em­ploy­ers have an em­ployee re­source group or di­ver­sity coun­cil that in­cludes LGBT is­sues. Of those busi­nesses that have an em­ployee re­source group, 90 per­cent of the groups are spon­sored by an ex­ec­u­tive cham­pion — some­one in up­per man­age­ment who con­nects the group to the se­nior de­ci­sion mak­ers of the com­pany.

[Among the com­pa­nies that rated a “per­fect” 100 per­cent score]:

3M, All­state, Amer­i­can Ex­press, An­heuser-Busch, Ap­ple, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Boe­ing, Camp­bell Soup, Cap­i­tal One Fi­nan­cial Corp., Chrysler, Cit­i­group, Coca Cola, Con­ti­nen­tal Air­lines, ebay, Ford, Gap, Gen­eral Motors, Levi Strauss, Lock­heed Martin, Mar­riott, MasterCard, Merck, Mer­rill Lynch, Nike, PepsiCo, Price­wa­ter­house Cooper, Shell Oil, Sprint Nex­tel, Star­bucks, Tar­get, Toy­ota, Unilever, US Air­ways and. . . the Walt Dis­ney Co.

Mean­while, a lo­cal owner of seven Hall­mark stores in Idaho has de­cided not to stock the gay wed­ding cards in his store. Gay rights groups are mulling a boy­cott.

— “Cor­po­rate Equal­ity In­dex 2009,” posted at the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign web­site at hrc.org

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