We gave you a rundown of the 10 worst companies for gays and lesbians, but according to an HRC report released last week, they’re an ever shrinking group. The 2009 Corporate Equality Index shows that companies are increasingly taking an interest in providing equal protection and a safe environment for their gay and lesbian employees. When HRC began rating companies on gay and lesbian equality, only 13 scored a perfect 100. Today, that number is 259. Here are six of the best.
Possibly the gay-friendliest company on the planet, Apple not only makes shiny computers that appeal to our innate sense of aesthetics, they also donated $100,000 to defeat Proposition 8 and encouraged visitors to their site to join in. In a statement, the company said:
“Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights – including the right to marry – should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.”
In addition to providing full health benefits and domestic partner rights for its employees, search engine-behemoth Google also took the unprecedented step of speaking out against Prop. 8, saying:
“While there are many objections to this proposition — further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text — it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 — we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.”
They also put together a mean pride parade float.
Campbell Soup Co.
Campbell was the target of an American Family Association boycott earlier this year after they ran ads featuring lesbian mommies cooking soup for their son. Rather than bowing to political pressure, Campbell told the conservatives, “No soup for you!” The company promised to continue the ads, saying, “Inclusion and diversity play an important role in our business, and that fact is reflected in our marketing plan.”
Eastman Kodak Co.
Kodak has been the recipient of many awards for its gay and lesbian inclusiveness over the years, but our favorite Kodak moment would have to be the 2002 story of Rolf Szabo, who, like all employees, received a memo explaining how to act appropriately if a co-worker disclosed their sexuality or gender orientation. Szabo hit “reply to all” and wrote: “Please do not send this type of information to me anymore, as I find it disgusting and offensive.” Kodak officials spoke with Szabo and asked him to apologize, and when he refused, they canned him. “The whole thing is true,” said Jim Blamphin, Kodak’s manager of corporate media relations. “This chap was asked to take part in a program that fosters inclusion, and he refused.” Right wingnuts jumped on the news and tried to make Szabo into a hero, but in the end he just remained (rightly) fired.
The first Fortune 500 company to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of its unmarried employees, Levi’s has a long history of supporting gay rights, including donating $25,000 to defeat Prop. 8. Robert Haas, the company’s chairman emeritus also gave $100,000 to No on 8. Plus, they do great gay ads.
Last summer, Nike quickly removed an ad featuring a basketball player getting a mouthful of balls (by accident) emblazoned with the title “That Aint Right.” It was a rare misstep for a company that’s had a solid footing with the gay community for years, offering the full-range of domestic partner and health benefits for its employees and regularly sponsoring gay athletes at the Gay Games.