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Most countries and states across the globe do not provide legal protections for LGBT employees. Some countries, like India, still follow colonial-era laws preventing LGB citizens from having same-sex relations, which means that the workplace can’t possibly be conducive for LGBT employees. But India is not the only country with unfavourable policies for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Surveys suggest that only 61 countries prohibit discrimination in the workplace due to sexual orientation, and America is not one of them – at least partly. There is no protection for sexual orientation at the state-level in 29 of the 50 US states. This means that employees can be sent packing for being LGB. Furthermore, employees can be sacked for being transgender in 33 of the 50 US states without state-level gender identity protection. Unfortunately for Canada, the same statistics apply: Over half of the country’s provinces do not have laws protecting the LGBT community in the workplace.
But it is not all bad news for LGBT employees in the US and Canada.
As of 2013, 88 percent of the Fortune 500 companies had enacted non-discrimination policies, including sexual orientation, which is a significant change from just 3 percent in 2002. These companies also offer a number of benefits to their LGBT employees, including:
- Protection for sexual orientation – 91 percent of companies
- Domestic partner health benefits – 67 percent of companies
- Gender identity protection – 61 percent of companies
- Transgender health-inclusive benefits – 28 percent of companies
The most LGBT-friendly companies
- Amazon – A 2015 survey revealed that Amazon is the best-perceived lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community’s brand
- Apple – Apple has expressed its strong support for marriage equality, and even expanded their insurance options for employees to cover gender confirmation surgery in 2011. Later, in October 2014, Tim Cook – Apple CEO – came out in a Bloomberg Businessweek claiming that he is gay, and has since become an outspoken advocate for the rights of the LGBT community.
- Google – Employees at Google like to call themselves Googlers, while the LGBT staffers prefer to call themselves “Gayglers.” The Gayglers openly take part in Pride celebrations and parades across the globe, plus Google introduced an effect in its search box, causing it to transform into a rainbow whenever users searched pride-friendly terms like “lesbian”, “gay,” “transgender”, “bisexual,” and “marriage equality.”
- Royal Bank of Canada– The bank has not only celebrated and commemorated National Coming Out Day by organising an event where its LGBT employees can share their coming out stories since 2009, but also sponsors and participates in Toronto’s Out on Bay Street event that links job-seeking post-secondary LGBTQA students from law, technology, and business with large corporate employers.
- Telus – The company supports the LGBT community through its resource group for its LGBTQ staffers (Spectrum) that promotes education, volunteering, advocacy, and networking. The company also participates in the online initiative called “It Gets Better,” and sponsors the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival.
Other trans-friendly companies include Netflix, TD Bank, JC Penny, Goldman Sachs, Bank of Nova Scotia, Ben & Jerry’s, Boeing, and Bank of Montreal.