Philadelphia, PA —
A record 460 (92%) of Fortune 500 companies include gay and lesbian employees in their nondiscrimination policies, according to Equality Forum, a national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization.
Full listings by company name, revenue, state and industry, along with letters of support from CalPERS, Citigroup, Harvard University, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, are posted at: www.equalityforum.com/fortune500
"When over 90% of the Fortune 500 companies recognize the value of their gay and lesbian employees, it is time for Congress to listen and respond," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum. "Only sixteen states have laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in private employment, and no federal protection exists for gay and lesbian Americans."
Equality Forum began contacting Fortune 500 companies in 2003, when 323 (65%) companies explicitly offered workplace protection to their gay and lesbian employees. In June 2005, Equality Forum entered into a collaboration with Professor Louis Thomas of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Professor Ian Ayres, William K. Townsend Professor, Yale Law School.
"Companies that include sexual orientation protection contractually obligate the corporation to provide a workplace where merit, not intolerance, prevails," stated Ayres.
"Wharton has studies that demonstrate that workplace diversity including sexual orientation is in the best corporate and shareholder interest," stated Thomas.
The additional 137 companies now offering protection from discrimination represent a workforce of over 10 million employees.
Equality Forum has contacted the twenty-five largest mutual funds, investment managers, university endowments, philanthropic foundations and labor, state and municipal pension funds to ask for their support on proxy statements requesting sexual orientation protection.
"For companies wanting to send an affirming retail message, including sexual orientation protection helps to tap into the over $600 billion annual U.S. gay and lesbian consumer market," stated Allan Gilmour, former Vice Chair, Ford Motor Company.
"The corporation and its shareholders benefit by being able to recruit and retain the best employees and benefit from a diverse workforce," stated Charles Gifford, Chairman Emeritus, Bank of America.
Equality Forum is one of several organizations working towards workplace equality for GLBT employees, including the Gill Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, along with many GLBT workplace groups.
For more information about the Fortune 500 Project, including sample letters of institutional support, visit: www.equalityforum.com/fortune500
Article provided in partnership with GayWebMonkey.com.