| Wendys and Halliburton among small percentage of Fortune 500 companies not protecting gays
by Michael Rogers
Washington, DC - According to a report released today by the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum, while policies to protect gays and lesbians from job discrimination have been put into place at over 90% of Fortune 500 companies, giant firms such as Halliburton, Exxon Mobil, and Wendy's International still have no such rules in place.
When Exxon and Mobil merged, in 1999, the newly created firm decided not to extend Mobil's domestic partner benefits program to Exxon employees. In some offices of the world's largest oil company, gay and lesbian employees found themselves working side by side, some with the domestic partner benefits and some without. A community=wide boycott was launched against the company and a number of shareholder actions have been introduced to require the company to add sexual orientation to its groups protected from jobs discrimination. "It's sad," said one Exxon Mobil staffer who asked to remain anonymous, "Here we are, one of the largest companies on earth, managed by some very socially backward people."
Another employee of the company who had worked for Mobil prior to the merger told PageOneQ, "After winning benefits at Mobil, it's a step backward. It affects morale. They say for every few steps forward there is one back, this is such a case."
Wendy's International has made news in the gay and lesbian community before. The operator of fast-food restaurants pulled it's advertising from the Ellen show after it was revealed that the lead character, played by Ellen Degeneres, would be coming out as a lesbian.
Halliburton, the multinational giant formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, also does not have any anti-discrimination policies in place to protect gay and lesbian employees. It was announced yesterday that Halliburton had been awarded contracts to begin the rebuilding in areas damaged by hurricane Katrina.
Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum used the report's release as an opportunity to renew a call for federal legislation to protect LGBT Americans from workplace discrimination. "When over 90% of the FORTUNE 500 companies recognize the value of their gay and lesbian employees, it is time for Congress to listen and respond," Lazin said in a statement released along with the report.
Corporate leaders in various economic sectors made statements with the report's release. Allan Gilmour, above photo, the former Vice Chairman of Ford who made news when he came out in 1996 said, "For companies wanting to send an affirming retail message, including sexual orientation protection helps to tap into the over $600 billion annual U.S. gay and lesbian consumer market."
Charles Gifford, Chairman Emeritus of Bank of America noted "The corporation and its shareholders benefit by being able to recruit and retain the best employees and benefit from a diverse workforce."
For more information about the FORTUNE 500 Project visit www.equalityforum.com/fortune500/
Originally published on Sunday September 4, 2005.