PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Equality Forum, a
national and international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT)
civil rights organization, announced that 470 (94%) of the 2007 FORTUNE 500
Companies voluntarily include sexual orientation in their employment
nondiscrimination policies. Equality Forum collaborates in this project
with Professor Louis Thomas, Wharton School of the University of
Pennsylvania, and Ian Ayres, William K. Townsend Professor, Yale Law
According to Gallup's May 10-13, 2007, Values and Beliefs Poll, 89% of
U.S. citizens believe that gays and lesbians should have workplace
discrimination protection. There is no federal workplace protection based
on sexual orientation and only 20 states include sexual orientation
nondiscrimination in their workplace statutes.
"When 94% of the FORTUNE 500 Companies and 89% of the public support
workplace equality, Congress is derelict by its failure to include GLBT
citizens in federal workplace discrimination protection," stated Malcolm
Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. "There is no cost to provide
sexual orientation protection. Corporations and shareholders benefit from a
workplace where merit, not intolerance, prevails."
Of the 30 FORTUNE 500 Companies that are noncompliant, 13 (43.3%) are
headquartered in Texas. "When it comes to equality, Texas is a lone and
tarnished star," Lazin stated.
In fall 2003, when Equality Forum began contacting FORTUNE 500
Companies, 323 (64.6%) companies provided sexual orientation protection.
Equality Forum communicated with the 177 (35.4%) CEOs and HR Directors of
companies not offering that protection. By fall 2004, 405 (81%) FORTUNE 500
Companies included sexual orientation in workplace nondiscrimination.
In summer 2005, Equality Forum and Professors Thomas and Ayres
communicated with the 25 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.
In response, Vanguard was among the large institutional shareholders
that reviewed this issue and determined that it was in the best shareholder
interest to support sexual orientation workplace protection. Exxon Mobil is
one of only two companies in the FORTUNE 100 that does not provide sexual
orientation protection. At the 2006 and 2007 annual Exxon Mobil
shareholders meetings, Vanguard supported sexual orientation workplace
equality by voting its 194 million shares against Exxon Mobil management.
"Wharton has studies that demonstrate that workplace diversity
including sexual orientation is in the best corporate and shareholder
interest," stated Professor Louis Thomas. "This workplace protection
likewise sends an affirming message to the estimated $660 billion annual
domestic GLBT consumer market."
"The FORTUNE 500 Companies that include that protection contractually
obligate the corporation to workplace equality," said Professor Ian Ayres,
Yale Law School. "Since the inception of the FORTUNE 500 project, an
additional 147 (29.4%) FORTUNE 500 Companies now provide sexual orientation
protection to a combined workplace of over 15 million employees."
"Equality Forum salutes GLBT workplace groups, Out & Equal Workplace
Advocates, Human Rights Campaign and others for their efforts on behalf of
workplace equality," stated Kevin Ray, Esq., Board Chair, Equality Forum.
For more information on the FORTUNE 500 Project, visit
http://www.equalityforum.com/fortune500. The names of the FORTUNE 500
Companies that are compliant and noncompliant are listed alphabetically and
by revenue size, industry and the state in which they are headquartered.
Equality Forum is a national and international GLBT civil rights
organization with an educational focus. Equality Forum undertakes high
impact national initiatives, coordinates GLBT History Month, produces
documentary films and presents the largest annual national and
international GLBT civil rights forum. For more information about Equality
Forum, please visit http://www.equalityforum.com.
SOURCE Equality Forum