Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn. The company has updated their employment and non-discrimination policies to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.
The shareholders request that East West Bancorp amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Programs developed to implement this policy should be based on identified best practices.
East West Bancorp does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in its written employment policy.
Eighty-nine percent of Americans favor equal opportunity in employment for gays and lesbians (Gallup, May 2007), and 72% agree that “fairness is a basic American value and employment decisions should be based solely on qualifications and job performance, including for transgender people” (Peter D. Hart, 2007). Three quarters of voters of the 2012 election favored outlawing sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment, according to research by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (2012).
Sixty-five percent of lesbian and gay employees state that they have faced discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace (Out & Equal and Witeck Combs survey, June 2008). Transgender workers report widespread employment discrimination — up to 56% were fired, up to 47% were denied employment, up to 31% were harassed, and up to 19% were denied promotion based on their gender identity (Williams Institute, June 2007).
Currently, at least 21states, including California, and at least 160 cities, require protection on the basis of sexual orientation, while 12 states require protection on the basis of gender identity or expression. Our company has operations in, and makes sales to, institutions in states and cities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identify or expression.
East West Bancorp is increasingly an outlier in its position. As Human Rights Campaign Foundation notes, many companies in the Fortune 500® have implemented best practices and policies to support discrimination free workplaces. For example, approximately:
- 90% have Equal Employment Opportunity Policies that include sexual orientation,
- 46% have Equal Employment Opportunity Policies that include gender identity or expression, and
- 60% provide domestic partner benefits
Many industry peers, such as Union Bancshares and Wells Fargo explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in their written policies. Moreover, other major corporate employers located in or near California such as CBRE Group, Jacob’s Engineering and Tetra Tech explicitly prohibit this form of discrimination in their written policies.
Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws differ with respect to employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a consistent, corporate-wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally to avoid costly litigation or damage to its reputation, access employees from the broadest possible talent pool, and ensure a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees. East West Bancorp will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.