Two Okla. Fortune 500's Have Gender Identity Policies

Article excerpt

Workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered employees have expanded significantly over the last decade, exemplified by 175 of the Fortune 500 companies now with gender identity policies - including two in Oklahoma, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation reported.

Oneok Inc. and Williams Cos. Inc., both based in Tulsa, have adopted official policies to protect their employees against prejudiced treatment because of their sexual orientation, the foundation found in its recent survey. Williams spokeswoman Julie Gentz said her company also provides same-sex partner benefits, which wasn't noted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

"Over the years, Williams has made several important strides in fulfilling our mission of attracting and creating a diverse work force," Gentz said. "And we want our policies to be reflective of our principles of equity and fairness as well as to enhance our competitive advantage."

The other two Fortune 500 companies in the state, Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy Corp., both in Oklahoma City, had no protections in place when the foundation released its report this month.

"This report shows that the country's largest and most competitive employers are most likely to have added protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation, setting consistent expectations of equal opportunity for their employees and job applicants regardless of where they work in the United States," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said.

"Millions of people work in cities, counties and states where discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is still legal," he said. "Particularly as so many workers are losing their jobs, no one should have to face the added worry of losing their job simply because of who they are."

The nonprofit foundation is an educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. …