Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Corporate America finally treats lesbians & gays fairly, but Kansas & Kansas City lag behind

[updated & corrected]

By Diane Silver

A record number of corporations are treating their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered employees fairly, the Human Rights Campaign reported today. However, HRC's 2006 Corporate Equality Index only rates three Kansas and Kansas City area companies highly.

Sprint Nextel, which has its operational headquartesr in Overland Park, Kan., received a perfect 100 percent rating from HRC. Applebee's, a restaurant chain headquartered in Overland Park, received an 80 percent rating and Hallmark Cards of Kansas City earned a 75 percent rating.

Two other Kansas City, Mo., corporations were also rated. Aquila received a 35 percent rating, while Cerner Corp. earned a 45 percent rating.

HRC's fifth annual Corporate Equality index reported that a record 138 major corporations earned their top rating of 100 percent. That is up from 101 companies earning 100 percent a year ago. That number "has grown tenfold in four years," HRC says.

HRC notes:

Indeed, this year's report found fierce competition within industries for the top rating, triggering quick actions to improve company policies and benefits at many companies. Using the CEI, companies can examine their scores in absolute terms, but also relative to their competitors. For example, last year Raytheon Co. was the only member of the aerospace industry to get a perfect score. This year, however, three of its competitors also earned 100 percent. Four other industries saw rapid growth in companies achieving the top score. A total of eight law firms, five pharmaceutical companies and five consulting houses all reached 100 percent for the first time in 2006. And, while in 2005 two major auto companies achieved the top rating, this year, that number doubled to four.

"CEOs are very much aware of their score and its impact on their business. They know that a top score means a healthier work environment, greater productivity and the ability to recruit top talent. They also know that a bad score will hurt their bottom line," (HRC President Joe) Solmonese added.
The HRC surveyed companies listed in the Fortune 1000, Standard and Poor's 500, Forbes 200 largest privately held firms, the American Lawyer 100 and any other company with 500 or more employees that requested a rating or for whom HRC had sufficient information to do a rating.

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