Corporations Promote LGBT Equality in Absence of Public Policy
Calvert finds that large corporations are shifting standards toward greater equality for the LGBT workforce, but public policy continues to lag behind.
At Calvert, we believe that good corporate stewardship with respect to issues affecting the LGBT community helps companies reach broader markets through programs that attract these diverse groups. Recent survey data indicates that acceptance of the LGBT community has been growing in recent years, and Calvert research shows that the top companies in the U.S. are following suit in implementing corporate policies toward workplace equality. In addition to protections against workplace discrimination, companies across sectors are increasingly extending domestic partner benefits to employees as formal recognition of nontraditional family structures. As part of our diversity engagement, we collaborate with leading LGBT advocates to encourage public corporate support of legislation that promotes full equality in both the workplace and civil society.
In our recent examination of corporate diversity in the S&P 100 Index, Calvert found that 96% of these large-cap companies prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 77% incorporate gender identity into these policies. This progress is encouraging; however there are still many companies that have not adopted anti-discrimination policies to protect the LGBT workforce, and further action is needed.
While we note advancements made in the private sector, public policy continues to lag in providing equal rights to the LGBT community. In recent years, the movement toward equality has gained ground with both the public and investors, and Calvert has continued its efforts toward influencing public policy. We supported recent legislation promoting marriage equality in several states and have asked private sector leaders to do the same. In Washington State, we signed on to a shareholder letter requesting 19 major corporations based there to publicly support pending legislation promoting marriage equality, and we wrote nine others to thank them for similar statements they had already made. Similarly, Calvert worked with Marylanders for Marriage Equality in mobilizing like-minded investors to contact Maryland-based corporations for public support of pending marriage equality legislation. Calvert believes that these companies can have significant sway on state legislation, as their operations bolster state economies and encourage renewed investment in the LGBT community.
Calvert has continually voiced strong support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a proposed bill that would provide a much-needed safeguard against workplace harassment based on sexual orientation. We commend the 33 companies in the S&P 100 Index that have also supported ENDA publicly, including Citigroup, Pfizer, and Coca-Cola, and we look to these companies’ peers to follow their example. In the absence of public policy, large-cap companies such as these can have significant impact in protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination and harassment. Since 2002, Calvert has filed shareholder resolutions with 17 companies asking for greater protection of employees by revising their non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
For more information on Calvert’s diversity work, and the detailed findings of our 2013 Diversity Report, please contact Christine De Groot at Christine.DeGroot@Calvert.com.