Majority of Americans Agree That Transgender Employees Should Be Judged by Job Performance,...

Tue Sep 2, 2008 12:50pm EDT

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Majority of Americans Agree That Transgender Employees Should Be Judged by Job Performance, Not Gender Identity

  New Workplace Report also Shows that Majority of Americans Support
     Marriage-Like Benefits for Same Sex Couples in the Workplace
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. & ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(Business Wire)--
According to a recent national survey, seven out of ten
heterosexual adults (71%) agree that how an employee performs at their
job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not
they are transgender. The new survey also showed that nearly eight out
of ten (79%) heterosexual adults strongly or somewhat agree that how
an employee does his or her job should be the standard for judging an
employee, not their sexual orientation.

   The survey also revealed that a majority of heterosexual adults
are supportive of marriage-like workplace benefits for same sex
couples virtually across-the-board. For example:

   --  Three out of four (75%) heterosexuals feel that spouses of
        married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay
        and lesbian employees both should receive leave when they lose
        a spouse/partner or close family member.

   --  More than two-thirds (68%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses
        of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of
        gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave rights for
        family and medical emergencies as outlined in FMLA.

   --  And, almost two-thirds (64%) of heterosexuals feel that
        spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed
        partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive
        untaxed health benefits under federal law.

   These are some of the key findings from the 7th annual national
Out & Equal Workplace Survey, whose outcomes are captured for the
first time in a comprehensive Workplace Culture Report, highlighting
the trends towards full acceptance in today's workplaces towards LGBT
employees, their partners, spouses and families.

   The 2008 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by
Harris Interactive(R) in conjunction with Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs
Communications, among 2,637 U.S. adults, of whom 343 self-identified
as, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)(1). Beginning in
2002, this survey is an annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT
issues in the workplace and is the longest-running survey of its kind.

   David Krane, Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy
Research, Harris Interactive, said, "Opinion trends can offer critical
benchmarks for policy decision-makers. An in-depth report like this
gives us a higher degree of confidence testing American attitudes on
sensitive questions such as workplace discrimination. We are very
proud to partner with Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs Communications to
conduct these key opinion studies."

   "It's encouraging that heterosexuals appear more and more
committed to ending these forms of employment discrimination and to
extending equal benefits to all employees," said Out & Equal Executive
Director Selisse Berry. "Despite these recent strides, however, there
remain far too few companies and jurisdictions that provide meaningful
protections to all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or
gender identity. There is still much progress to be made in today's
workplace and in society itself."

   Berry added, "It is clear that the next frontier when it comes to
diversity in the workplace will be protecting gender identity and
expression. Recent media visibility has helped to bring this issue
into the light and helped put a human face to this complex and
sensitive topic. For the first time in U.S. history, Congress held a
hearing on the discrimination that transgender people face in today's
workplace." She noted that today more than 300 companies prohibit
discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or expression as
well as 90 U.S. cities and counties.

   In addition, support for equal access to benefits in the workplace
is almost as strong and also appears unchanged from recent years.
Almost two-third (64%) of heterosexuals strongly or somewhat agree
that regardless of their sexual orientation, all employees are
entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for
their partners or spouses. Also, nine out of ten (90%) heterosexual
adults said they would feel indifferent or feel positively upon
learning that a co-worker was gay or lesbian, compared to one of ten
(11%) who said that they would feel negatively.

   Although attitudes and conditions are improving, LGBT respondents
still report experiencing discrimination and many still feel the need
to conceal their sexual orientation:

   --  About two of three (65%) of gays and lesbians faced some sort
        of discrimination in the workplace.

   --  Nearly half (47%) of gays and lesbian adults heard anti-gay
        comments on the job.

   --  More than one-third (36%) of gays and lesbians say they remain
        closeted at work.

   --  One out of five (20%) gays and lesbians report being harassed
        on the job by co-workers.

   The survey also suggests that public education is needed on the
lack of protections that exist today in the workplace for LGBT
employees. Despite high numbers of support for LGBT rights, six out of
ten or 61 percent of heterosexuals are still unaware that under
federal law it is legal for an employer to fire someone because they
are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Also, nearly three out of
ten (29%) of gays and lesbians are unaware that under federal law it
is legal for an employer to fire someone because they are lesbian,
gay, bisexual or transgender.

   The release of this new workplace study comes just one week before
the start of the nation's largest conference dedicated to addressing
equality in the workplace for LGBT employees. The 18th annual Out &
Equal Workplace Summit will be held September 10-13 at the Austin
Convention Center in Austin, TX. More than 2,500 attendees will gather
to share best practices on how to achieve workplace equality for LGBT
employees. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human
resources and diversity professionals, representing some of the
nation's most prominent companies--a majority from the Fortune
500--are set to participate in this year's summit.

   "The Out & Equal Workplace Summit brings together employees and
managers from all types of companies and organizations with a common
goal - to understand how to make their workplace free from
discrimination," affirms Out & Equal board President Tara Bunch.
"Discrimination has no place in a civil society founded on the ideal
that all women and men are created equal."

   For more information about the summit or to register, please visit
www.outandequal.org.

   About the Out & Equal Workplace Summit

   The 2008 Out & Equal Workplace Summit is scheduled for September
10-13 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. The Summit will
bring together more than 2,500 human resources professionals, LGBT
workplace advocates, straight allies and other committed individuals
from around the country to receive the latest updates on LGBT issues
in the workplace. Keynote speakers include: national syndicated
columnist and co-founder/editor of HuffingtonPost.com, Arianna
Huffington; former U.S. ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest; TV
personality, author and fashion designer, Carson Kressley; TV host,
political commentator and activist, Keith Boykin; Chairman and CEO of
The Clorox Company, Donald Knauss; President of AT&T California, Ken
McNeely; General Manager at Microsoft, Magen Wallent; and Vice
President at Hewlett-Packard and Out & Equal board President, Tara
Bunch.

   In addition to the annual Workplace Summit, Out & Equal offers:
Building Bridges Diversity Training specific to LGBT workplace issues;
a growing network of regional affiliates that includes New York City,
Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Chicago, Rocky Mountain, Arizona,
Washington, DC, Southern California, Philadelphia, Kansas City,
Portland, and Seattle; provides support to LGBT employee resource
groups; offers bi-monthly Town Call education series; a national
newsletter; LGBT CareerLink-a joint project with the National Gay &
Lesbian Chamber of Commerce-to connect LGBT-friendly employers with
top talent; and an annual Executive Forum.

   Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3)
organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. Out &
Equal(TM) Workplace Advocates champions safe and equitable workplaces
for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The
organization advocates building and strengthening successful
organizations that value all employees, customers and communities.

   For more information, including how to register for the Summit,
visit www.outandequal.org.

   Methodology

   Harris Interactive(R) conducted the study online within the United
States between June 9-16, 2008, among 2,637 adults (ages 18 and over),
of whom 2,220 indicated they are heterosexual and 343 self-identified
as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender(2). Figures for age, sex,
race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to
bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted
separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that
Harris Interactive has compiled through many different online surveys.
Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents'
propensity to be online. Because the sample is based on those who
agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of
theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Additional data tables
and full methodology can be found at www.harrisinteractive.com. These
statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
Council on Public Polls.

   About Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

   Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. is the nation's premier
marketing communications and consulting firm, specializing in
developing and implementing effective strategies reaching the gay and
lesbian consumer market. With 15 years experience in this unique
market, Witeck-Combs Communications not only serves as a bridge
between corporate America and lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender
consumers (LGBT), but also provides counsel to countless non-profit
organizations that aim to educate the public on lesbian and gay issues
or to better reach their LGBT membership.

   In April 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob
Witeck and Wes Combs as two of 25 experts over the last 25 years who
have made significant contributions to the fields of demographics,
market research, media and trendspotting for their path breaking work
on the gay and lesbian market, and in 2006 Bob Witeck and Wes Combs
co-authored Business Inside Out: Capturing Millions of Brand Loyal Gay
Consumers (Kaplan Publishing), considered the first-ever book on
marketing insights, practical tips and strategies targeting the gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender market. They have appeared in
worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, CNN, Reuters,
Associated Press, Ad Age, New York Times and Washington Post. For more
information visit www.witeckcombs.com.

   About Harris Interactive

   Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research.
With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our
science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business
results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North
American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent
market research firms.

   (1) The sample of 343 includes an oversample of LGBT adults.

   (2) Includes an oversample of LGBT adults.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Redge Norton, 415-694-6507
rnorton@outandequal.org
or
Witeck-Combs Communications
Bob Witeck, 202-887-0500 ext. 19
bwiteck@witeckcombs.com
or
Harris Interactive
Tracey McNerney, 585-214-7756
press@harrisinteractive.net

Copyright Business Wire 2008
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