Employers sign up for gay and lesbian diversity scheme

An initiative has been
launched to help companies comply with forthcoming European legislation
outlawing workplace discrimination against homosexuals.

The Diversity Champion Scheme,
organised by gay and lesbian equality campaigners Stonewall, aims to challenge
sexual orientation discrimination at work before the 2003 deadline for the
implementation of the EU Equal Treatment Directive.

Eight large employers have
already signed up, including the BBC, GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC, Barclays and
B&Q.

The DCS aims to provide a
network for employers to share good practice.

Stonewall’s executive director,
Angela Mason, said the group is also looking at awarding kite marks to
companies that develop good sexual orientation polices and the possibility of
gay and lesbian recruitment fairs.

Paul Rodgers, IBM’s director of
HR for the UK and Ireland, welcomed the scheme. He said, "Sexual
orientation is no different to any over diversity and should treated as part of
diversity initiatives.

"The winners in today’s
competitive environment will be those companies that can attract and retain the
best talent, so it is vital that everybody in IBM is proud of themselves and
the company.

Rodgers said that in 1984 IBM
was the first Fortune 500 company to add sexual orientation to its
non-discrimination policy.

The company set up a gay and
lesbian network group 10 months ago, which has grown to over 100 employees and
has also changed the company’s benefits package so that same-sex partners are
now covered by private medical health insurance.

www.stonewall.org.uk

By Paul Nelson

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