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Published: Tuesday, 11/1/2005

OC calls its gay-friendly policies a business plus

Being rated as one of 100 big companies with the most gay-friendly personnel policies in the nation not only boosts Owens Corning s image, but helps its bottom line, a company official said.

The policies have helped attract a diverse work force, resulting in a company that is better at problem-solving than firms with less diversity, said Frank O Brien-Bernini, vice president for technology.

Also, he added, such policies, which include domestic-partner benefits, help keep workers focused on their jobs.

OC, a Toledo producer of building products, was one of 101 big firms that earned a perfect 100 on the 2005 corporate equality index compiled by the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an advocate for the rights of gay and transgender individuals.

Every year we see more and more companies understanding that these policies are the right thing to do and that they re good for their bottom line, said Michael Cole, a spokesman for the organization.

The number of firms earning a perfect score increased 80 percent since last year, the organization said.

In 2002, when the organization launched the index, just 13 companies employing 690,000 people earned a perfect score.

Today, top-scoring firms employ 5.6 million people.

OC is in good company, with perfect scores earned by firms including General Mills Inc., Citigroup Inc., DaimlerChrysler AG, and Johnson & Johnson.

One of the chief reasons for the increase in top-scoring firms is a rise in policies on transgender individuals, the organization said.

Indicators include policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as equal health care benefits.

At OC, a 50-person gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and allies organization is one of five affinity groups. Others groups include a women s information network, multicultural network, African-American resources group, and Hispanic diversity council.

OC has experienced no backlash from people opposing such policies, Mr. Bernini-O Brien said.

Said Mr. Cole, spokesman for the foundation, Our opponents often try to stand in the way of progress. But employers don t shy away from adding these policies because they know they re good for business.

Among companies at the bottom of the list are Exxon Mobil Corp., which the foundation characterizes as working against equality because the firm eliminated domestic partner benefits and ignored shareholder motions to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy, Mr. Cole said.



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