4 DFW corporations earn perfect scores on Equality Index

GayTexasFlagTwo local companies participated for the first time in the latest Corporate Equality Index, the annual assessment of corporate LGBT policies and practices released Wednesday, Nov. 19, by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Celanese Corporation of Irving and RadioShack of Fort Worth joined 42 other Texas-based companies on this year’s CEI, which evaluates Fortune 1000 companies and law firms on a 1-100 scale across five categories: non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion, public commitment to LGBT equality and corporate responsibility.

Four Dallas/Fort Worth companies achieved the rare perfect 100 score, among them AT&T and Comerica of Dallas, American Airlines of Fort Worth and GameStop of Grapevine.

American Airlines is among just nine companies nationwide that have received perfect scores each year since the CEI began in 2002.

“The Corporate Equality Index shows just how much progress American businesses have made in promoting fairness, spurred on by leadership from Texas-based employers,” said Deena Fidas, who heads the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project and is co-author of the CEI. “Texas companies can tell you: equality works — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is simply good business to give everyone a fair shot at success in the workplace.”

Celanese was lauded for dramatically improved its score from 15 to 80 points by taking action that included adding gender identity protections to its non-discrimination policy, as well as instituting domestic partner medical benefits, same-sex partner benefits and an LGBT employee resource group with executive support.

RadioShack’s active participation earned the corporation 15 points over last year’s score. ExxonMobil of Irving, notoriously hostile to LGBT equality, has been given a score of -25 for shareholders’ actions in repeatedly voting against a policy protecting LGBT employees.

Rafael McDonnell, advocacy and communications director for Resource Center, said, “Celanese is one of the oil and gas and engineering companies who see the benefits of inclusion.” He noted that oil and gas giants like Celanese, as well as manufacturing, biotechnology and other companies in business sectors that have been under-represented are a focal point for LGBT workplace advocates like Resource Center and HRC.

AT&T celebrated its leadership on LGBT issues, as seen in the video below.

“When you have a culture where everyone can bring their full selves to work each day, it’s amazing what happens,” said Debbie Storey, AT&T senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer. “At AT&T we’ve long known that inclusion drives innovation – and that a truly inclusive culture is defined by its action, policies, and accountability practices. HRC understands that too, which is why this recognition is so meaningful to us.”

—  James Russell

AT&T named best company for LGBT employees

AT&T logoIt’s not often that Texas ranks at the top of the heap for anything LGBT, but DiversityInc named Dallas-based AT&T as the best company for LGBT employees.

AT&T was cited as the first company to oppose anti-gay policies at the Sochi Olympics and for its efforts opposing Arizona’s anti-gay law that was vetoed in February.

To compile the list, DiversityInc “looked at best practices that create an inclusive workplace for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) employees as well as relationships with LGBT nonprofits and public advocacy of inclusiveness, such as support for same-gender marriage and public statements opposing homophobic actions.”

Those best practices include:

• Whether the company has an active LGBT employee resource group
• Percentage of philanthropic endeavors aimed at LGBT nonprofits
• Whether the company attempts to track the number of LGBT people in the workplace, including voluntary disclosure
• Whether the corporate website features images and text of LGBT employees, customers or vendors
• Whether the company certifies LGBT vendors with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
• Percentage of procurement spent with certified LGBT vendors

Here are the top 10 companies for LGBT employees:

1. AT&T
2. Wells Fargo
3. MassMutual Financial Group
4. Time Warner
5. Eli Lilly and Company
6. EY
7. KPMG
8. Target
9. IBM
10. Aetna

Several of those companies, such as MassMutual, KPMG and EY, have offices in Dallas.

—  David Taffet

AT&T takes stand against Russian gay discrimination

AT&T logoU.S. Olympic Committee sponsor AT&T has taken a stand against Russian discrimination, standing with the LGBT community.

The Dallas-based company wrote on its Consumer Blog that Human Rights Campaign called on International Olympic Committee sponsors “to take action and stand up for LGBT equality.”

“AT&T is not an IOC sponsor, so we did not receive the HRC request,” the company wrote on its blog. “However, we are a long-standing sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). We support HRC’s principles, and we stand against Russia’s anti-LGBT law.”

The post links to the company’s “Committment to the LGBT community.”

LEAGUE at AT&T was the first LGBT employee resource group at a major corporation.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” the company wrote on a page entitled “Best Place to Work for LGBT Employees.”

The site also boasts that for the 10th year in a row, AT&T received a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

In its press release, AT&T states its support for American athletes and ends with support for the LGBT community:

As the games begin, we’re here to support and inspire American athletes who’ve worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve their dreams. We also want to be on record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same.

—  David Taffet

Exxon remains at bottom of new HRC Corporate Equality Index

CEI_2014_ReleaseThe Human Rights Campaign was unimpressed when ExxonMobil began offering partner benefits to its LGBT employees earlier this year. That company retains its minus-25 a score on the new Corporate Equality Index released this week.

On the other end of the spectrum are AT&T, American Airlines, GameStop and Nokia, local companies with perfect scores.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” AT&T spokesman Charles Bassett said. “AT&T has also donated millions of dollars to support LGBT causes.”

HRC was bothered by Exxon’s refusal to add a nondiscrimination policy and noted its fierce opposition to a shareholder resolution to add the protection at its annual meeting held in Dallas in May.

Texas Instruments increased its score from 85 to 90. J.C. Penney kept its score of 95. Comerica Bank decreased from 95 to 90 this year. Southwest Airlines held steady at 90.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Car hits monument but doesn’t cause damage

Legacy of Love monument on Oak Lawn Avenue at Cedar Springs Road

Maybe drivers just can’t see the “Legacy of Love” monument on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Ave. Maybe it needs to be a little bigger. Maybe it’s all those flashing lights warning drivers that pedestrians are crossing the street a couple of blocks away.

This morning another motorist crashed into the monument. The vehicle appeared to have ended up between the protective brick pillars and was gone by the time I got back with a camera.

Kudos to AT&T

While I was out I noticed that the new AT&T store next to the Verizon store is almost complete.

New AT&T store on Oak Lawn Ave.

Kudos for a building with an interesting design that nicely compliments Eatzi’s across the street and for having a sense of humor by placing the store directly next door to Verizon. Now T-Mobile needs to come in there and build something more fabulous with the billions it just got from AT&T when their merger failed.

—  David Taffet

“A Gathering — 30 Years of AIDS” tonight at the Winspear

Come together

The Dallas arts community is coming together for a spectacular One-Night-Only performance commemorating 30 Years of AIDS. An unprecedented collaboration between some of the finest arts organizations in Dallas, A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects on 30 Years of AIDS will feature eleven Dallas cultural institutions coming together and sharing their talents to create a powerful evening of entertainment. With a cast of more than 200 singers, dancers and actors, A Gathering promises to be a soul-stirring performance, and a night to remember.

All the organizations involved are donating their time and talent for this unique performance. 100% of the proceeds will directly benefit four of Dallas’ leading AIDS service organizations. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be a part of an extraordinary night of song, dance, hope and solidarity.

Participating organizations: AT&T Performing Arts Center, Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Bruce Wood Dance Project, CharlieUniformTango, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, SMU Meadows School of the Arts, Texas Ballet Theater, TITAS and Turtle Creek Chorale

—AT&T Performing Arts Center

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7 p.m. $12–$100. ATTPAC.org/Gathering

—  Rich Lopez

DONATION

LEAGUE AT AT&T GIVES TO RCD | Representatives of Dallas-based AT&T present a check for $5,000 to Resource Center Dallas in support of the center’s programs and services. Pictured are, from left, John Cramer, national public affairs director for LEAGUE at AT&T; Angela Ross, AT&T external affairs director; Theresa Bates-McLemore, national LEAGUE president; Jennifer Hurn, client services manager for Resource Center Dallas; and Cece Cox, executive director and chief executive officer of Resource Center Dallas.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Equality Texas issues action alert with time running out on anti-bullying bill

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Time is running out on the anti-bullying bill that has become Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s state legislative session. The Texas Senate must pass HB 1942 today if it is to become law this year, according to an action alert from Equality Texas this morning. The group is urging people to contact their senators immediately and urge them to bring the bill to the floor. For contact info and talking points, go here.

2. After six hours of debate, the Minnesota House voted 70-62 Saturday to place a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot. Four Republicans voted against the amendment, and one of them was State Rep. John Kriesel, a veteran who lost both of his legs in the Iraq war. Watch Kriesel’s speech on the House floor below.

3. Several major corporations, including Dallas-based AT&T, have issued statements saying they don’t support a Tennessee bill aimed at stripping LGBT protections in Nashville and banning future civil rights laws for gay and transgender people. The corporations were accused of supporting the bill, which passed last week, because they have representatives on the board of the Tennessee chamber of commerce, which backed the measure. But some have issued statements clarifying their positions in response to a campaign by AMERICAblog. Below is AT&T’s statement. To sign a petition calling on the other corporations to withdraw their support for the bill, go here.

“AT&T does not support any laws or efforts that are discriminatory. AT&T does support the principals of ensuring that state and local laws are consistent, which is the stated purpose of HB 600/SB 632. However, the bill has become implicated in efforts to erode the rights of the gay community, which we do not support. AT&T has a long history and longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its policies address diversity in areas including race, creed, religion, sex, and particularly sexual orientation.”

—  John Wright

ExxonMobil protest on for Wednesday

Exxon protest in Tampa
Protesters gather outside a Mobil station in Tampa, Fla., on May 21.

Environmental and LGBT groups will gather Wednesday morning outside the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, during Irving-based ExxonMobil Corp.‘s annual shareholders meeting.

For the LGBT groups, the issue is inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the company’s nondiscrimination policy. Mobil included LGBT employees in its nondiscrimination policy and offered domestic partner benefits. But when the two companies merged in the late 1990s, those protections and benefits were rescinded.

—  David Taffet

Thanks, Bryan and Bill

AT&T

I was hesitant to share this, lest I be accused of navel-gazing, but above is a photo of a plaque and card I received this week from gay AT&T employee Bryan Dickenson of Garland, thanking me for reporting on his struggle to get FMLA leave from the company so he could care for his ailing partner of 30 years, Bill Sugg. Bryan is at home with Bill now, having been granted discretionary leave. Dallas-based AT&T enacted a new policy granting FMLA-equivalent leave to same-sex partners, regardless of whether their relationship is recognized by the state in which they live. However, because Dickenson is a member of union, he must wait for the new policy to be approved by his labor representatives. In the meantime, he’s been granted discretionary leave so he can care for Sugg, who’s undergoing physical therapy and remains on a feeding tube, but is gradually improving.

Of course, the real credit for this victory goes to Rob Wiley, Dickenson’s attorney, who had the foresight to contact us when his other efforts failed; to the countless advocates across the country who spoke up in response to my original story; to Dickenson and Sugg, who sacrificed their privacy to fight for equal benefits; and, yes, even to AT&T for responding swiftly and favorably.

Still, I felt compelled to post this here and say that in 10 years as a working journalist, I’ve never received anything quite like it from a source. And I can tell you that it means much more than any award from a press association. In a profession where you so frequently become the target of anger and blame (including for this story), it’s nice to know when you’ve helped make a difference in people’s lives.

Thanks, Bryan and Bill.

—  John Wright