Equality Forum, a US based LGBT rights organisation, has announced that 470 (94%) of the 2007 Fortune 500 companies in the US voluntarily include sexual orientation in their employment non-discrimination policies.

The Fortune 500 is a ranking of the top 500 American public corporations as measured by gross revenue.

According to a Gallup 2007 Values and Beliefs Poll, 89% of US citizens believe that gays and lesbians should have workplace discrimination protection. There is no federal workplace protection based on sexual orientation and only 20 states include sexual orientation non-discrimination in their workplace statutes.

“When 94% of the Fortune 500 companies and 89% of the public support workplace equality, Congress is derelict by its failure to include GLBT citizens in federal workplace discrimination protection,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. “There is no cost to provide sexual orientation protection. Corporations and shareholders benefit from a workplace where merit, not intolerance, prevails.”

Of the 30 Fortune 500 companies that are noncompliant, 13 (43.3%) are headquartered in Texas. “When it comes to equality, Texas is a lone and tarnished star,” Lazin stated.

In 2003, when Equality Forum began contacting Fortune 500 companies, only 323 (64.6%) companies provided sexual orientation protection. By 2004, 405 (81%) Fortune 500 companies included sexual orientation in workplace non-discrimination.

“The Fortune 500 companies that include that protection contractually obligate the corporation to workplace equality,” said Professor Ian Ayres, Yale Law School, who collaborates on Equality Forum’s Fortune 500 project.

Since the inception of the project, an additional 147 (29.4%) Fortune 500 companies now provide sexual orientation protection to a combined workplace of over 15 million employees.

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