Tempting Gay Employees

Article excerpt

Work takes up a great deal of our time and energy, but how many gays and lesbians actually like where they work or what they do for a living? As the following stories show, many do. We look at ten companies that respect their gay workers and at ten gay men and lesbians who love their jobs.

The Advocate's TOP TEN COMPANIES FOR 2000 adds to a growing list of sweet workplaces for gays and lesbians

Given that most people spend more than half their weekday waking hours on the job, deciding where to work can be one of the most difficult decisions to make. The choice can be even more complicated for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. After all, it's emotionally and intellectually draining to hide who you are or to work in a homophobic environment.

Now, however, gay workers are in something of a buyers' market. Though many companies still have a long way to go in fostering an atmosphere of inclusion, many others have made important strides over the last few years, offering domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples and including written nondiscrimination policies for sexual orientation in their corporate statements. "In this tight job market, people are seeking out companies that offer domestic-partner benefits, knowing it is a place that welcomes everybody," says Selisse Berry, executive director of the Pride Collaborative, a gay and lesbian work association in San Francisco.

There are a number of resources for figuring out which company is right for you. Grant Lukenbill, an author whose titles include Smart Spending: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Socially Responsible Shopping and Investing, compiles a yearly list that rates some of the largest companies in the United States, which he calls the glvIndex, or gay-lesbian values index. It ranks private companies on a ten-point scale that takes into account whether the company includes sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy, has same-sex domestic-partner benefits, and does not support groups that oppose passage of rights protections for gays and lesbians, among other things.

Beyond that, Lukenbill says, it is also vital to consider the company's overall values. "It is important to consider not only if it is a great place to work but also if it's making great products and if it's listening to its investors," says Lukenbill. "Those three things must work together equally."

Likewise, the Human Rights Campaign, as part of its yearly report on the U.S. workplace, keeps an ongoing list of private and public companies and organizations, in addition to state and federal governments and agencies, that provide domestic-partner benefits and that have written policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Last year The Advocate presented a list of 25 gay-friendly companies. Among the main criteria used to determine which companies to include were whether the companies had (or were working toward) domestic-partner benefits, a sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy, and education on sexual orientation issues.

The following is a list of ten additional companies that have made significant strides in those three areas. It is not intended to be a list of the ten best companies--only ten more good ones to add to last year's list.

The companies

AT&T

New York City 1999 SALES: $62.4 billion EMPLOYEES: 151,000 FORTUNE 500 RANKING: 8

AT&T was one of the first Fortune 500 companies to have a written sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy. The firm stood up to religious conservatives who attempted to boycott the company in the mid 1990s for its nondiscrimination policy. AT&T was also a pioneer in targeting advertisements to the gay and lesbian community.

Oracle

Redwood Shores, Calif. FISCAL 2000 SALES: $10.1 billion EMPLOYEES: 41,320 FORTUNE 500 RANKING:195

One of the largest manufacturers of computer software, Oracle was an early supporter of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act (ENDA), the federal bill that would ban antigay workplace discrimination, as well as AIDS and breast cancer organizations. …

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