Groundbreaking Business Coalition for the Equality Act Launches

Employing millions of people around the globe, 60 major businesses stepped up today to endorse the Equality Act -- a bill that when passed will change the playing field for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Companies like American Airlines, Apple and General Mills have long histories of LGBT-inclusion and their membership in the Business Coalition for the Equality Act speaks to their legacy of leadership.

This leadership couldn't come at a more urgent time for the countless American workers who go to work every day in a country where no consistent, explicit protections exist that prevent them from being fired simply because of who they are. People like Carter Brown -- a proud Texan, a loving son and brother. Carter had a decade of experience in the real estate industry and was an exemplary employee -- earning three promotions in two years and a six figure salary. He went to work every day proud of his job.

One day, Carter arrived to work to find that he had been outed as transgender by a colleague. Despite near perfect attendance, good relationships with coworkers, and being one of the top producers in his department, Carter was harassed by other colleagues and was soon fired. Texas is among the majority of states that lack explicit statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT residents.

Most people have no idea that even after we've achieved nationwide marriage equality, a majority of states lack these critical non-discrimination protections. I remember receiving a call from my sister a couple of years ago. She lives in Nebraska and was shaken by news of a teacher being fired because he was gay. Can't we do something, she implored. The truth is we don't have all the protections we need -- it shouldn't matter where you live.

Fortunately, we've been making significant progress on the road to equality.

Before coming to the Human Rights Campaign, I served in President Obama's Administration and was fortunately to be part of a team that helped make incredible advances for LGBT workers. From securing Family and Medical Leave Act coverage for LGBT families, to expanding job protections and opportunities for transgender workers and job-seekers and, of course, the historic signing of President Obama's executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors. Today, we also have a range of historic rulings, memos and briefs from our friends at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, making clear that Title VII's prohibitions against sex discrimination should extend to LGBT workers.

None of these advancements would have been possible without the leadership of corporate America when it comes to LGBT-inclusion. Businesses like those who stepped up today were there with organizations like HRC all along, making not just the moral case for these laws but the business case.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said as much when President Obama signed the federal contractor executive order, calling it a "civil rights victory consistent with our founding principles" and saying "it will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people."

But these advancements are still limited in scope and reach. The Equality Act is the next necessary step to guarantee protections for LGBT Americans. It would explicitly and permanently extend federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT people not only in our places of employment, but in a broad cross section of our lives including access to housing, education, credit and public services and spaces. It would even ensure our right to sit on a federal jury. None of these are guaranteed under federal law today.

Businesses can be nimble when it comes to adopting their own pro-equality values and policies, but these gaping holes in the basic civil rights of LGBT Americans across the country present tangible challenges to hiring and moving employees state to state.

Seventy-five percent of Fortune 500 companies extend gender identity non-discrimination protections to their employees and 93 percent include sexual orientation. Forty percent offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, up from zero just a decade ago. Why do they do this?

Because businesses thrive when they can attract and retain a talented, engaged workforce. When a leading manufacturing company wants to recruit a top engineer from California to Tennessee, for example, that's no ordinary move if the engineer happens to be LGBT. It's a move from a state with full protections to one where those same basic protections would dissolve for the employee and their family at the state line.

The businesses who joined us today to advocate for the Equality Act -- including Google, Diageo, those I've already named and scores of others -- represent 19 industries, they are headquartered in 22 states, and their revenues exceed 1.8 trillion dollars. Today, they stepped forward for the over 4.2 million workers they employ.

Members of Congress who doubt the bipartisan, common-sense appeal of this bill should take a note from a private sector that is once again leading the way for this country's LGBT workers who should be guaranteed -- under federal law -- their inalienable right to provide for themselves, their families and their communities.

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Accenture: Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to our core values, and we look forward to continuing work with HRC in support of fairness and equal treatment for LGBT employees. We remain committed to an inclusive and diverse workplace, and for these reasons, we support the Equality Act.

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Airbnb Inc.: At Airbnb, our mission is to create a world where all 7 billion of us can belong anywhere, and we are committed to building a future where all people feel welcomed and respected for who they are. We strive every day to create a workplace where employees of every age, race, ability/disability, religion, culture, sexual orientation and gender identity feel welcome and supported. As a global business, we support workplace fairness for all employees, both domestically and abroad, because equality is simply essential to good business, and enables us to better serve our global community.

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Best Buy Co. Inc.: Best Buy doesn't tolerate discrimination. We celebrate diversity and because of that, we're standing with the Human Rights Campaign and other leading businesses in support of the Equality Act. "As a retailer with 50 years of experience serving the American consumer, we believe in equality and value a diverse and inclusive environment for our employees and customers," said Susan Bass Roberts, head of Diversity and Inclusion for Best Buy. "Supporting workplace fairness and equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities is good for business. Quite simply, it's the right thing to do."

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Biogen: "At Biogen, we have a long supported LGBT inclusion, creating an environment where individual differences are celebrated. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion has enabled us to reach and attract the most qualified candidates, and more effectively engage with our employees, patients, providers, suppliers and member of the many communities we serve. We recognize that this focus is not universal - and many LGBT people in this country still face bias both inside and outside the workplace. The passage of the Equality Act will play an important role in helping remove many entrenched barriers that still impact the LGBT community." - Javier Barrientos, Senior Director, Global Diversity and Inclusion

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Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.: "Diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the Broadridge value system. We believe an inclusive global workforce that values all types of backgrounds, with different experiences and viewpoints, is critical to help cultivate associate engagement and to respond more effectively to the diverse needs of our clients worldwide. The LGBT programs in place at businesses today have created pathways to workplace equality, and we are especially supportive of the proposed amendments to the Equality Act as they will pave those pathways by setting clear, consistent standards to help ensure all employees are treated the same."

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CA Technologies Inc.: "We all benefit from diverse viewpoints. In fact, progressive thinking is a hallmark of the tech industry. At CA Technologies, we believe that innovation is a by-product of a diverse workforce -- where all are included, supported and celebrated. Removing barriers for success is at the heart of what we do. We evaluate our practices and policies regularly and de-bias both by designing them to provide equal benefits for everyone. This culture of inclusion ultimately translates into better business outcomes for our employees, customers, and shareholders." - Beth Conway, vice president of Human Resources, CA Technologies.

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Ceasars Entertainment Corp.: Caesars has a history of leadership in fostering an inclusive workplace for LGBT employees, committed to creating and facilitating programs and policies that are offered to all of its employees and guests. Specific to its LGBT employees, the company enforces its comprehensive non-discrimination policies, provides domestic partner benefits (including health care) and will offer benefit coverage for gender reassignment. Caesars has long led public policy and advocacy around relationship recognition and anti-discrimination on a state and federal level, including ENDA, two DOMA US Supreme Court amicus briefs, and Nevada Transgender anti­discrimination bills. For nine years running, Caesars has received a "perfect score" on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index with the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

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Cardinal Health Inc.: Cardinal Health appreciates and encourages inclusion. We strive to cultivate an environment where our workforce of over 36,000 feels valued, respected and supported. As a global healthcare solutions company, we recognize the importance of diversity and believe it includes, in the broadest sense, the diversity of families. We are proud to join HRC and other businesses to support passage of the Equality Act. Encouraging this inclusive action by our legislators reinforces our emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best talent and strengthens our culture where our employees can bring their whole self to work.

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The Coca-Cola Company: Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity. We believe the Equality Act can help to foster diversity, unity, respect among all people and, ultimately, a more inclusive world. The expansion of protections for the LGBT community is consistent with our core values and we are pleased to support the Business Coalition for Equality.

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Corning Inc.: Corning Incorporated was one of 379 signatories on the amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. "This was a great example of Corning living its Values," said Christy Pambianchi, senior vice president, Human Resources. "Our capacity as an innovation leader depends on diversity of ideas, experiences, and backgrounds. We understand that our global workforce consists of a rich mixture of diverse people, who are a source of our strength and a competitive advantage. Signing the amicus brief was a critical gesture for Corning to make in support of our current and future employees."

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CVS Health Corp.: "At CVS Health, we have long supported the HRC mission of improving the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and embracing the rich diversity of our colleagues, customers and suppliers. It is part of our culture to make every individual feel equally valued, respected and appreciated. As a leading health care company, we are proud to join the HRC corporate coalition of businesses that share our commitment to fair and equal treatment of LGBT employees around the United States. We will continue to advance our efforts to promote a diverse workforce and recognize that a workplace that embraces diversity and inclusion is good for business, helps attract and retain talent and enables us to fulfill our purpose of helping all people on their path to better health." - David L. Casey, VP of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health

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Dropbox Inc.: At Dropbox we recognize the importance of fostering a community with a wealth of perspectives and backgrounds - investing in inclusion is not only the right thing, it also prevents against blind spots, boosts innovation, and gives us new ways to solve problems. We support the expansion of The Equality Act and the legal protections it offers to not only impact the future of business but that of all public sectors - for this generation and beyond.

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The Dow Chemical Co.: "An inclusive and respectful culture transcends quiet tolerance. It must be the intentional and unequivocal standard wherever you operate. It must be led by example, with unwavering conviction - from the C-suite to the shop floor - that it is simply the right thing to do, for business and for society. And it must extend beyond the company walls to the communities we call home, leading through advocacy, through partnerships... and at times, leading alone." James R. Fitterling, President and Chief Operating Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

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Facebook Inc.: Equality is imperative to achieving our mission of making the world more open and connected. Facebook has a long history of supporting equal rights for everyone, and we believe that ensuring fairness in the workplace should be a fundamental principle for all companies. We are open and vocal proponents of the legal protections outlined in the Equality Act.

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Gap Inc.: For more than 45 years, Gap Inc. has stood for equality for all, and we believe that our business succeeds when everyone has the chance to stand as equals and thrive. We are committed to providing an open, inclusive, and respectful work environment for our employees and our customers alike. We have zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in our workplaces. At Gap Inc. and our family of brands, we are open to business for everyone. As a company that puts inclusion first, Gap Inc. is proud to join with the Human Rights Campaign and other companies to support the Equality Act.

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The Hershey Company: The Hershey Company proudly supports HRC's Business Coalition for the Equality Act and the Equality Act of 2015. Hershey received the distinction of "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality" on the HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index (CEI). This ranking is a visible reflection of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Through inclusion of all 21,000 remarkable employees, Hershey activates the power of diversity to create a supportive work environment that values every employee.

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Hewlett-Packard Co.: "Hewlett Packard Enterprise has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is woven into the fabric of our organization. LGBT inclusion is no exception. Leading with inclusion makes us successful, and we will continue to stand for equity for all people everywhere, every day. We are proud to participate in the Human Rights Campaign Business Coalition for Equality." -Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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IBM Corp.: IBM's long standing commitment to diversity and inclusion enables us to accelerate our innovation and unleash the immense talent of all IBMers around the world. Creating an environment of inclusion is not a program. It is a corporate value that has to flow through the DNA of an organization - at IBM it is part of who we are as a company.

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Intel Corp.: "We all have qualities which make us unique, shape our perspectives and experiences, and influence our styles and thinking. And those different individual qualities make us stronger as an organization. Inclusiveness happens when very different individuals feel free to embrace their uniqueness and have an environment where they can truly belong. Inclusion is about creating high performance teams where every employee is empowered and capable of doing their best work." - Danielle Brown, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Intel Corporation

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Johnson & Johnson Company: At Johnson & Johnson, we encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work. This diversity of thought helps us better understand our customers and yields a vibrant global community that is working together to solve the world's greatest healthcare challenges. We will continue to advocate for individualism and fairness. And we remind everyone that it's not what Johnson & Johnson has done for equality and inclusion in the workplace, but what equality and inclusion have done and will continue to do for the people of our great company and the patients and customers we serve.

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Kellogg Co.: At Kellogg, we are proud of our efforts to create a diverse and engaged workforce. We have long been allies and supporters of LGBT employees, their families and the community, and we work toward ensuring equality through our policies, benefits and culture. Kellogg is making progress in numerous areas, including growing our LGBT & Allies employee resource group, providing training and education opportunities for the broader organization, advocating at the state level for inclusion and equality, and by maintaining a perfect score on HRC's Corporate Equality Index for the past five years. Kellogg is profoundly honored to be a founding member of HRC's Business Coalition for Equality. We remain steadfast in our commitment to diversity and inclusion for our LGBT Community and all global employees.

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Levi Strauss & Co.: Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to support the Equality Act. We have a long history of supporting equal rights for the LGBT community, from being the first Fortune 500 company to extend health benefits to unmarried domestic partners more than 20 years ago, to being the only California business in 2007 to file an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business.

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Marriott International Inc.: At Marriott, we believe that every individual, including those in the LGBT community, should feel welcome, safe and respected when they enter one of our properties. As a global hospitality leader, our principles of non-discrimination extend to all travelers, and include sexual orientation and gender identity. That is why we are proud to join with the Human Rights Campaign and support passage of the Equality Act, to help ensure equality under the law as well as under our own roof.

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MasterCard Inc.: Our diversity and inclusion agenda is foundational to who we are and what we do at MasterCard. It drives our collaboration, our talent development and our innovation. We have and will continue to support efforts that drive greater equality and opportunity. Actions like the way we manage our benefits and employee programs to sponsorship of pride awareness campaigns reinforce how we encourage our employees and partners to bring a diverse set of thoughts, experiences and backgrounds to their daily activities.

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McGraw Hill Financial: McGraw Hill Financial is proud to support its employees through our policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits and transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits. We are committed to creating a highly productive culture characterized by diversity in all forms, inclusive leadership and results. We believe that success is driven by our most valuable asset - our employees. "Through the support of our leaders across the organization, we have been a longtime advocate for the LGBT community," said Rosemarie Lanard, MHFI Chief Diversity Officer. "We are proud to be in the forefront of offering programs and policies that underscore non-discrimination workplace protections."

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Microsoft Corp.: Microsoft is committed to LGBT equality has a fundamental human right. The diversity of our workforce is an important bridge to the global marketplace. This isn't just about what is good for Microsoft, LGBT equality is good for all economies. We believe countries that provide immigration benefits to same-sex partners place themselves at a competitive advantage for securing top talent and benefitting from the contributions of a diverse workforce.The business case is only one part of the argument. Diversity, inclusiveness and equality are fundamental values more broadly, and underpins our commitment to advancing LGBT equality globally.

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Monsanto Co.: Monsanto is proud of our company's diversity and focus on inclusion which helps ensure that every voice is heard and every person is treated equally. We believe that an inclusive workplace allows people to truly bring their best and most innovative ideas to the organization which is critical to success. Our employee resource group Encompass is a great example of this. Encompass is focused on developing and leveraging the talents of Monsanto's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees through active participation by members and allies.

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Moody's Corp.: "I am proud of our ongoing work to build a diverse, inclusive workplace at Moody's, where all of our employees can contribute fully and feel comfortable doing so. A work environment where all employees are valued equally is fundamental to our success as a global company." - Raymond McDaniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody's.

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Orbitz Worldwide Inc.: "At Orbitz, we've been advocates of equality and inclusion since our founding in 2001. Our support for the Equality Act is consistent with our other actions, such as signing the amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to find gay marriage bans unconstitutional. Orbitz plans to continue its unwavering commitment towards equality and non-discrimination for both our employees and customers alike."- Hari Nair, Vice President/General Manager, Orbitz.com & CheapTickets.com

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Qualcomm Inc.: Qualcomm is thrilled to be part of HRC's Business Coalition for Equality. As a company that is committed to equality, we support the rights of everyone who works here, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We celebrate diversity within our workforce and recognize it is critical to the success of individuals and the organization. This fundamental principle guides the way we conduct ourselves and our interactions with employees, stakeholders and customers around the world. That is why we are proud to support the Equality Act, which would, finally, establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans.

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Replacements Ltd.: "As a gay man, I know what it feels like to be discriminated against and that drove me to create a workplace where all people can feel safe and accepted," says Replacements, Ltd.'s Founder and CEO Bob Page. "The Equality Act will ensure all people are treated fairly, no matter where they live. Hard-working LGBT Americans make major contributions to workplaces and our economy and they deserve the same legal rights and protections as everyone else. Unfortunately, Washington simply isn't moving fast enough. That's why it is so important for business leaders to fight for this groundbreaking legislation."

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Salesforce: Equality is a core value at Salesforce. We are committed to equality for all and to protecting our employees and customers from discrimination. Last year, Salesforce took a public stance on RFRA legislation in Indiana and Georgia because our employees in those states spoke up and we saw that those bills created an environment of discrimination. In Indiana, we were proud to work on a fix to the original RFRA law. And in Georgia, the RFRA bill didn't make it out of the Senate. Now, we are standing up against HB 757 in its current form because we believe the legislation creates an environment of discrimination that is inconsistent with our values.

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Target Corp.: Inclusivity is a core belief we celebrate at Target. We stand for equality, a fundamental factor in making our diverse team members and guests feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day. "Target proudly stands with the LGBT community through all that we do," says Caroline Wanga, Target's vice president of diversity and inclusion, "We work to be a champion for an inclusive society through our partnerships, volunteer efforts and the products we sell."

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Unilever: "At Unilever, we encourage everyone to bring their authentic self to work. Celebrating our differences unlocks the full potential of all our employees and drives greater business performance." - Mita Mallick, Director, Diversity Outreach & Engagement, Unilever

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Twitter Inc.: "Twitter is based on the values of openness and free expression; it is a great equalizer that allows all voices to be heard. Just as inclusion lives on our platform, we believe it is essential to ensure that nobody is denied services or rights because of who they are or whom they love. Twitter values diversity, and embraces the talents, perspectives, and creativity that different backgrounds and life experiences bring to innovation. We want everyone to live and work in a just society where they feel included and are free from discrimination. We therefore support the Coalition and its commitment to advancing these values." - Colin Crowell Vice President of Global Policy, Twitter Inc.

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WeddingWire Inc.: WeddingWire has always been committed to being inclusive of the LGBTQ community. We're dedicated to continuing to do what's right: focusing on providing the highest-quality experience to everyone we serve both inside and outside of our offices.

The full Business Coalition for the Equality Act includes: Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Accenture, Airbnb Inc., Amazon.com Inc., American Airlines, American Eagle Outfitters, Apple Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Biogen, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp., Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., Brown-Forman Corp., CA Technologies Inc., Caesars Entertainment Corp., Capital One Financial Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., Choice Hotels International Inc, Corning Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, CVS Health Corp., Diageo North America, Dropbox Inc. , The Dow Chemical Co., EMC Corp., Facebook Inc., Gap Inc., General Mills Inc., General Electric Co., Google Inc., The Hershey Company, Hewlett-Packard Co., Hilton Worldwide Inc., Hyatt Hotels Corp., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Kellogg Co., Levi Strauss & Co., MasterCard Inc., Johnson & Johnson , Marriott International Inc., McGraw Hill Financial, Microsoft Corp., Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams , Monsanto Co., Moody's Corp., Nike Inc., Oracle Corp., Orbitz Worldwide Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Replacements Ltd., Salesforce, Sodexo Inc., Symantec Corp., Target Corp., Tech Data Corp., T-Mobile USA Inc., Twitter Inc., Unilever, WeddingWire Inc.