Acuity Brands – Non-discrimination Policy (2018)
Outcome: Withdrawn after the company agreed to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its Code of Conduct and Business Ethics.
Acuity Brands does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in its written employment policy;
According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2016 survey, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, a historic high.
We believe that corporations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees from the widest talent pool;
According to an analysis of surveys conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, sixteen to sixty eight percent of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people report experiencing employment discrimination. Ninety percent of transgender individuals have encountered some form of harassment or mistreatment in the workplace.
Public opinion polls consistently find more than three quarters of people in the United States support equal rights in the workplace
Although federal law does not provide sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination protection, seventeen states, the District of Columbia, and more than 114 cities and counties have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression;
In July 2014, the White House signed an amendment to an existing Executive Order covering companies that are federal contractors. The Executive Order explicitly prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In issuing the order the President stated, “equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business. That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place.”
We are concerned Acuity Brands may be lagging behind peers with comprehensive equal employment opportunity policies. According to the Human Rights Campaign, many companies including industry peers Corning, Philips, and Hubbell explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression in their written policies.
Shareholders request that Acuity Brands amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and to take concrete action to implement the policy.
We believe employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws are not comprehensive with respect to prohibiting employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a comprehensive, consistent, corporate-wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally, access employees from the broadest talent pool, and ensure a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees. We believe Acuity Brands will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.