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 Pennsylvania. 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