A record 477 of the 2012 Fortune 500 Companies voluntarily include sexual orientation in their employment nondiscrimination policies, according to a new study by the Equality Forum, a queer rights organization based in Philadelphia. With 95 percent of the largest corporations in the nation, the trend is moving in favor of equality. In 2004, just 323, or about 64 percent, of the Fortune 500 barred discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Ninety percent of Americans mistakenly believe that sexual orientation workplace protection is provided under the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia mandate workplace sexual orientation protection,” said Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin. “In most of America, gays and lesbians can be fired solely because of their sexual orientation and without any misconduct or violation of corporate policy.”
Certain Utah municipalities have measures protecting against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing, but all attempts to pass a statewide bill have fallen short. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden support the inclusion of sexual orientation in federal civil rights legislation. While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said opposes workplace discrimination, he is not on record as supporting ENDA.
According to recent polls, more than 70 percent of Utahns and more than 75 percent of Americans support protections for gays and lesbians. The majority support for the extension reaches across party bounds and includes Democrats, Republicans, independents, seniors, Catholics, Mormons and small business owners.
“There is overwhelming bipartisan and business support for protecting LGBT Americans in the workplace and no rational basis for delay,” Lazin said.
Among the 23 (4.6 percent) of the companies that do not provide protections against bias are Exxon Mobil, United Services Automobile Assn., and DISH Network. For the complete list, go to equalityforum.com/fortune500.