CSRHub Blog Research on ESG metrics and comments on sustainability best practice

Hundreds of Companies Support Gay-marriage

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 14, 2013 11:21:04 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

The Supreme Court will be taking up the gay-marriage issue for the first time at the end of DOMAMarch. Apple Inc., Morgan Stanley, and many other companies are same-sex marriage advocates. These companies are standing against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This law states that legally married gay couples can’t claim the federal tax breaks and other benefits available to opposite-sex spouses. Hundreds of American companies have spoken out against the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 over the years, and many of those companies signed onto briefs opposing both anti-gay laws. In 2008, Proposition 8 put a ban on gay marriage in California. This is now being challenged by corporate groups such as Facebook Inc. and Intel Corp. They have argued that “gay-marriage bans in 41 states harm workplace morale and undermine recruiting” (Greg Stohr). Companies such as Starbucks, Amazon and Apple have supported a brief that says "Proposition 8 and similar laws inflict real and wholly unnecessary injury on business ... No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws."

CSRHub tracks 245 companies that have gay and lesbian partner benefits. Companies on this list have implemented policies that respond to the special needs of gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. These policies may include expanded health and family leave policies, explicit rules regarding workplace discrimination, and management training programs. Of the 202 companies that backCSRHub gay marriage, 78 are identified by CSRHub as having these gay and lesbian policies and benefits. Some of these companies are listed below.

 Companies with Gay and Lesbian policies

Adobe Systems Inc. JetBlue Airways Corporation
Aetna Inc. Johnson & Johnson
Akamai Technologies, Inc. Levi Strauss & Co.
Alaska Air Group, Inc. Marriott International, Inc.
Alcoa Inc. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Alere Inc. Microsoft Corporation
Amazon.com, Inc. Morgan Stanley
Ameristar Casinos, Inc. NIKE, Inc.
Apple Inc. Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
BlackRock, Inc. Oracle America, Inc.
Boston Scientific Corporation Orbitz Worldwide
Broadcom Corporation Pfizer Inc.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation Qualcomm Incorporated
CBS Corporation Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
Cisco Systems, Inc. salesforce.com, Inc.
Citigroup Inc. Starbucks Corporation
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC State Street Corporation
Deutsche Bank AG Stonyfield Farm, Inc.
Diageo North America, Inc. Support.com
eBay Inc. The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
Electronic Arts Inc. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
EMC Corporation The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Ernst & Young LLP Thomson Reuters
Exelon Corporation UBS AG
Facebook, Inc. Verity Credit Union
Google Inc. Viacom Inc.
Group Health Cooperative Vulcan Inc.
Intel Corporation Walt Disney Company
Intuit Inc. Xerox Corporation


[csrhubwidget company="Starbucks-Corporation" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

Photo courtesy of freedomtomarry.org.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 7,000+ companies from 135 industries in 91 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

CSRHub rates 12 indicators of employee, environment, community and governance performance and flags many special issues. We offer subscribers immediate access to millions of detailed data points from our 200 data sources. Our data comes from eight ESG (environment, social, governance) analysts, well-known indexes, publications, “best of” or “worst of” lists, NGOs, crowd sources and government agencies. By aggregating and normalizing the information from these sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links each rating point back to its source. The rapidly expanding CSRHub dataset principally adheres to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3.1 guidelines.


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Why Facebook Needs Women on its Board

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 10, 2012 6:00:00 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By Carol Pierson Holding

As has been widely reported, Facebook – the social media company about to go public and possibly become the world’s 5th largest company – has no female board members.  Putting aside moral objections, why is this so terrible? Because it limits the company’s profitability, curbs innovation and, scariest for investors and employees, increases the risk of a meltdown.

WomenboardMy sponsor CSRHub is adding a positive screen for companies with female board members. The company’s founders, Bahar Gidwani and Cynthia Figge believe, as do most sustainability focused consumers and investors, that female board members make for stronger companies, and they want to give consumers a method for identifying which companies satisfy this criteria.

Their premise is backed up by substantial data. In 2007, the Boston Globe reported on a Catalyst study that examined the number of female board members at Fortune 500 companies, using data from 2001 to 2004. The top quartile yielded 13.9 percent higher return on equity and a similar advantage for sales.

The EU is convinced that women must be included at the top of companies if Europe is to remain competitive. Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, recommended quotas for female board membership, quoting Ernst & Young’s study of Europe’s 290 largest publicly listed companies. They found that the earnings at companies with at least one woman on the board were significantly higher than those without.

While the EU negotiates female board membership quotas, individual countries are forging ahead. Norway mandated that 40 percent of board members be women by 2008 and has since surpassed its goal. Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain have all adopted legislation that introduces gender quotas for company boards, to increase competitiveness and economic return.

Another benefit of female board members: reducing group think, or the tendency to avoid questions or suggestions that go against group norms, which produces new ideas and enhances innovation and can reduce risk too. In fact, some argue that this is was the cause of the financial collapse. As the UK trade pub People Management put it “…in the aftermath of the financial crisis, is the idea that a cocktail of machismo and boardroom group-think allowed casino-style investment decisions to escape scrutiny, raising the question of whether the world would be in a better place today had Lehman Brothers and the like had a few more sisters.”

Indeed, risk reduction might be the most compelling argument, especially for those who were invested in the market in 2008 and saw their portfolios fall by 30 or 40 percent. Scores of journalists point out that there were very few women executives and board members involved in the mortgage melt down and postulate what might have happened had there been more women at the top. This has been true at least as far back as the 2002 collapse of Enron, whose culprits were male and whistleblowers all female.

Yet despite the evidence, results to date show very slow progress for women board members in corporate America. GMI Ratings, a source for CSRHub, just published its 2012 Women on Boards Survey. The average board is only 12.6 percent female; 29 percent still have no women at all. The most frightening? Between 2009 and 2011, women’s US board participation increased only .5 percent, one third of the (also low) average of 1.4 percent for developed countries.

As for Facebook, the lack of gender inclusion is also just plain bad business. As the radical group Ultraviolet points out, “Women are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the sharing that happens on (Facebook). In addition, women account for more than 70 percent daily fan activity on the site, which is a huge source of revenue for the company.” Wouldn’t a female board member be first to recognize ideas that appeal to the company’s largest group of users? To avoid behaviors that might alienate women?

I wouldn’t stop using Facebook because of its board composition. But I sure won’t invest in it.

Photo published under Creative Commons license. Courtesy of Cushing Library on Flickr

Carol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council's Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on 5,000 companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

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