Trillium Shareholder Proposal Calls on Halliburton to Adopt Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Policy(A)
Trillium Asset Management, one of the nation’s leading socially responsible investment firms, has filed a shareholder proposal at Halliburton calling on the company to add protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation to its equal employment policies.
“Halliburton is operating with personnel policies that are a decade old,” says Shelley Alpern, vice president at Trillium. “This is a disservice to its employees and its shareholders.” Halliburton is one of only 14 percent of the Fortune 500 that has yet to adopt a simple nondiscrimination policy to protect lesbians and gay men. A majority of the Fortune 500 now offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.
The shareholder proposal points out that in Houston, where oilfield services and military contractor giant Halliburton is headquartered, at least 30 major employers competing for talent have sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies (including the City of Houston), and 25 also grant domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples. Halliburton’s industry competitors Bechtel and Baker Hughes already have an inclusive nondiscrimination policy, and Bechtel offers domestic partner benefits.
Despite great advances in recent years, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) workers continue to testify to the difficulties and risks of being “out” in the workplace. In a September 2005 poll of American workers conducted by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications, only half of LGBT and heterosexual persons surveyed agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement, “Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are treated fairly and equally in my workplace.” A large majority of heterosexuals as well as LGBT persons surveyed in the poll favor written nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, a finding that has been confirmed in many surveys in recent years. a finding that has been confirmed in many surveys in recent years. To view the poll, go to www.outandequal.org/news/pr/documents/OH_HI_WC_survey05.pdf.
“Because the struggle for gay marriage is so prominent, it’s easy for most people to forget that in 33 states, it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered,” Alpern notes.
The Trillium shareholder proposal will appear on Halliburton’s 2007 proxy ballot, which will be mailed to shareholders in the spring.
For more than a decade, Trillium has participated in numerous shareholder initiatives resulting in companies’ adoption of inclusive nondiscrimination policies. For her work in this area, Alpern has been singled out for honors by the Gay Financial Network and The Advocate magazine.
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