Comptroller, pension funds ask 2 dozen businesses to adopt policies, but have no plan to withdraw investments if they don’t comply
NEW YORK City officials on Tuesday, Jan. 29, called on two dozen companies that have collectively received billions of dollars of local pension investments to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification.
City Comptroller William Thompson and the New York City Pension Funds asked these companies to amend their policies, but have no plans to withdraw investments if the companies do not comply.
“This is a huge message for the rest of corporate America that companies need to begin to talk about non-discrimination policies for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the Workplace Project at the Human Rights Campaign. “You can’t foster an inclusive work environment without having basic protections in place for every employee to feel that they’re protected from discrimination on the job.”
New York City’s five pension plans, which include the Employees’ Retirement System, Police Pension Fund, Fire Department Pension Fund, Teachers’ Retirement System and Board of Education Retirement System, have more than $110 billion in holdings. About $2.2 billion of that is invested in the targeted companies.
Several of the companies targeted by the comptroller said they already have policies in place that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification. The companies named by Thompson included ExxonMobil Corp. and AK Steel Corp.
“It’s never been our policy to discriminate in regard to sexual orientation or gender identity,” said AK Steel spokesman Alan McCoy. “It was simply not specifically spelled out in our equal opportunity policy statement.”
ExxonMobil strongly believes that is has a fair policy in place when it comes to workplace discrimination. “We have policies that have zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment specifically referencing sexual orientation,” said ExxonMobil Corp. spokesman Alan Jeffers.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 1, 2008