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January 24, 2013

Trillium Engagement Leads to Non-Discrimination Policies at Four Companies
    by Robert Kropp

While employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender remains common, a majority of Fortune 500 companies now include protections in their employment policies. -- Trillium Asset Management, the Boston-based sustainable investment firm, announced this week that as a result of shareowner engagements undertaken by it last fall, four corporations agreed to employment and non-discrimination policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.

The four companies agreeing to do so are Sealed Air, East West BankCorp, Reinsurance Group of America, and W.W. Grainger.

According to a recent repo rt by the Williams Institute, employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people remains common in the US.

"As recently as 2010, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work," the Institute stated. "Research consistently shows that LGBT people continue to face high rates of discrimination in the workplace and that state and federal protections could consequently have a significant and positive impact for LGBT workers without overly burdening employers."

While Federal law does not prohibit employment discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity, "21 states, the District of Columbia and more than 140 cities and counties, have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation," Trillium reports.

And according to the recently published Corporate Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a majority of Fortune 500 companies now include both sexual orientation and gender identity protections in their employment policies.

"The numbers are irrefutable," HRC Foundation President Chad Griffin wrote. "The more successful a business is in the United States, the more likely it is to embrace equality."

"The success of our anti-discrimination engagements this fall is reflective of a shift in corporate America," Natasha Lamb of Trillium said. "Companies understand the importance of guaranteeing equal protection for all employees. Such protections not only have a positive impact on the lives of workers, they can also enhance a company's competitive edge."

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