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Monday, July 10, 2006

Gender identity policies is a "new trend" among Ga. businesses

Interesting article in last week's Southern Voice: It notes that sixteen of Georgia's Fortune 500 companies received high marks from the national Human Rights Campaign for implementing pro-gay policies, ranging from domestic partner benefits to gender identity protections. Of Georgia's 18 Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta-based BlueLinx Holdings Inc., Genuine Parts Co., Mirant Corp., Newell Rubbermaid Inc. and Southern Co. as well as Columbus-based AFLAC, include protection against sexual orientation discrimination (but not gender identity). However, Atlanta-based Sun Trust Banks Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co. are leading the way in the state as the only two companies also offering employees protection against discrimination based on gender identity.

The article quotes Monica Helms, an Atlanta transgender activist, who said that she was alarmed to find out that only two Fortune 500 companies in Georgia have policies in place that extend discrimination protection to transgender people.

"Right now, a lot of the national GLBT organizations are transgender inclusive and supportive. Companies that do not want to include transgender non-discrimination take a chance on losing that $640 billion in LGBT dollars. To me, a good business person sees green first," she said.

Herrschaft said he was not discouraged by the seemingly low industry participation in protections for transgender workers. "It’s a new trend, and it's one that's taking hold even more rapidly than domestic partner benefits did in the 1990s," he said. "More and more companies are seeking out the HRC's help in implementing and improving their inclusive policies. They’re just really beginning to see what it means to treat transgender employees fairly."

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