National Fuel Gas does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression in its written employment policy;
According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 survey, 61 percent of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression, a historic high.
We believe that corporations that explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees from the widest talent pool;
According to an analysis of surveys conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, 16 to 68 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people report experiencing employment discrimination;
Public opinion polls consistently find more than three quarters of people in the United States support equal rights in the workplace. In a 2011 nationwide survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the vast majority (79 percent) of the 800 respondents supported protecting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people from discrimination in employment;
Although federal law does not provide sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination protection, seventeen states, the District of Columbia, and more than 114 cities and counties have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression;
In July 2014, the White House signed an amendment to an existing Executive Order covering companies that are federal contractors. The Executive Order explicitly prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In issuing the order the President stated, “equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business. That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place.”
Companies without clear protections as articulated in the Executive Order could be in a position of competitive disadvantage.
At the March, 2014 annual meeting of the National Fuel Gas Company a similar proposal was presented to shareholders. Votes cast in favor (as a percentage of for and against votes) surpassed 30%, a strong result for a new proposal.
Our company is headquartered in New York where major employers such as Consolidated Edison, Verizon Communications, American Express, and Ernst & Young, LLP include gender identity or expression in their nondiscrimination policies.
Shareholders request that National Fuel Gas amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression and to take concrete action to implement the policy.
We believe employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws are not comprehensive with respect to prohibiting employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a corporate-wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally, and access employees from the broadest talent. National Fuel Gas will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.