Utah companies more welcoming to LGBT employees

Corporations across America are becoming friendlier to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign. The annual Corporate Equality Index has found a rise in Fortune 500 companies that offer workplace protections to LGBT employees. Last year’s report awarded 183 companies a top score. This year, that number has jumped to 252. Also, 13 of the 20 top companies, including General Motors, Chevron, AT&T and Citigroup, received 100 percent ratings.

Apple, Bank of America, Comcast, eBay, General Mills, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Nike, United Airlines, Walgreens and The Walt Disney Co., are other corporations that have landed a perfect score. The CEI evaluates companies on anti-discrimination policies, health care protections and other factors.

“Despite that people can be legally denied a job or fired simply for their sexual orientation in 29 states and for their gender identity in 34, our corporate allies has surged well ahead of lagging legislation to afford these protections,” HRC President Chad Griffin said.

Locally, several companies were ranked in the CEI, including Overstock.com, 80 percent, Gastronomy, Inc., 70 percent, and Huntsman Corp., 40 percent. Last year, Huntsman Corp. received a 0 percent grade.

Other major employers in the state that were graded include Delta Airlines Inc., 90 percent, Adobe Systems Inc., 90 percent, eBay Inc., 90 percent and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., 100 percent.

“Diversity is at the very core of our ability to serve our clients well and to maximize return for our shareholders. Diversity supports and strengthens the firm’s culture, and it reinforces our reputation as the employer of choice in our industry and beyond,” said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein in a press release.

Blankfein was recently highlighted in an HRC campaign video in which he voiced support for several marriage equality measures around the nation.

Not all of Utah’s largest employers were ranked by the HRC and many offer competitive benefits for gay and transgender employees, as well as nondiscrimination policies. Zions Bank is now offering anti-bias procedures as well as domestic partnership benefits for employees.

“At Zions Bank, diversity means respect, equality, opportunity, growth, fair treatment and participation. Zions Bank continues to thrive because of our strong commitment to diversity. We believe that success requires an environment where people are respected and valued, along with a talented workforce that reflects our diverse customer base,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president.

Utah’s largest nongovernmental employer, Intermountain Healthcare, is also offering domestic partnership benefits to Utahns. The company operates more than 20 hospitals and employs more than 32,000 employees.

When announcing the decision to include domestic partnership benefits, IHC spokesperson Daron Cowley said, “This practice has become the norm for many companies and government organizations throughout Utah and the nation.”

There are 16 Utah municipalities that have anti-bias protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Salt Lake City has the first domestic partnership registry for gay couples in the state. Nationally, more than 125 cities and counties, and 21, states have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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One Comment

  1. Yes, IHC does offer domestic partner benefits, but only after 12 months of living together. The cost of the benefits are $234 a month for just the partner, the employee/dependent cost is additional. That price is well out-of-reach for a significant portion of their employees, me included. IHC should not be applauded for domestic partner benefits until they are actually accessible.

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