Equality Forum: Record 78% of Fortune 500 Companies Provide Workplace Protection

Apr 28, 2004, 01:00 ET from Equality Forum

    PHILADELPHIA, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A record 389 (78%) of Fortune 500
 Companies have adopted personnel policies that protect sexual orientation from
 workplace discrimination.
     In fall 2003, Equality Forum in collaboration with the National Gay and
 Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of
 Commerce (CGLCC) wrote to the 177 CEOs of 2003 Fortune 500 Companies that did
 not provide workplace protection based on sexual orientation requesting that
 inclusion in their anti-discrimination policy.  These corporations were
 offered information and assistance and were informed that they would be
 commended if they amended their policies before Equality Forum's International
 Business Colloquium on May 1, 2004.
     "The inclusion of sexual orientation is important to both gays and
 lesbians and Fortune 500 Companies. There is no workplace protection for
 discrimination based on sexual orientation under federal law nor in 36 states.
 Including sexual orientation sends an affirming message for retaining and
 recruiting gay and lesbian employees as well as to the estimated 15 million
 gay and lesbian US consumers," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director,
 Equality Forum.
     "Over the past five months, we received positive response from 66 (37%) of
 the 177 noncompliant Fortune 500 Companies.  Most companies told us they had
 never had anyone directly address senior management about the importance to
 the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community of including
 sexual orientation in nondiscrimination policies. These companies wanted to
 join the 323 Fortune 500 companies that provide workplace protection based on
 sexual orientation. The inclusion of sexual orientation sends a message that
 their workplace provides a level playing field with merit as the standard for
 career advancement," stated Kevin Ray, Esq., Treasurer, Equality Forum.
     According to recent Gallup polling, over 85% of Americans support
 including sexual orientation in workplace nondiscrimination.
     Among those firms recently including sexual orientation in their workplace
 protection are ARAMARK, Eaton, Goodyear Tire, PNC Financial Services and Tyson
 Food Corporation.
     "This initiative is important. Congress is influenced by national business
 leadership.  With each additional Fortune 500 Company that protects gay and
 lesbian employees, we enhance the chances that Congress will follow business
 leaders and respect the will of the overwhelming majority of the U.S.
 population by amending the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to include
 sexual orientation," continued Lazin.
     Equality Forum annually presents the largest national and international
 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) civil rights forum. Equality
 Forum 2004 (www.equalityforum.com), from April 26 to May 2 in Philadelphia,
 has 57 events including the annual International Business Colloquium in
 collaboration with the NGLCC, CGLCC and Wharton School of the University of
     A full listing of the 2003 Fortune 500, including the status of their
 employee nondiscrimination policies, can be found at www.equalityforum.com
     For more information, please contact Alisha Simons, Communications
 Associate at (215) 732-3378 x 12 or visit www.equalityforum.com.
     The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is headquartered in
 Washington D.C. (www.nglcc.org). Please contact co-founders Justin Nelson and
 Chance Mitchell at (202) 661-3326.
     The Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is headquartered in
 Toronto, Ontario (www.cglcc.com). Please contact co-founders Bruce McDonald
 and Darrell Schuurman at (800) 982-8586.

SOURCE Equality Forum