Milwaukee lags in workplace equality

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Milwaukee’s major employers lag behind those in the rest of the region when it comes to workplace equality, according to a report produced by the Cream City Foundation.

The report was based on The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s corporate equality index, an annual survey that examines the policies, benefits and practices of companies toward their LGBT workers.

In the 2011 report, only two of the 16 Wisconsin companies that were rated achieved perfect scores of 100 percent – Quarles & Brady LLP and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. Companies were measured on their non-discrimination policies, diversity training, domestic partner benefits, employee resource groups and external engagement with the LGBT community.

Nine of the 16 Wisconsin employers were found lacking in all areas. The lowest-ranked companies earned ratings of only 15 percent, including Fiserv Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Harley-Davidson Inc., Manpower Inc., Rockwell Automation Inc. and Oshkosh Corp

Results of the report were announced at a sold-out luncheon hosted by Cream City Foundation’s QShare Business Network at Manpower Global Headquarters in Milwaukee on Oct. 28.

Wisconsin had an average index rating of 51 percent, far below that of neighboring states. Illinois had a rate of 81 percent, and Minnesota’s rate was 80 percent.

Employers headquartered in Milwaukee fared worst of all, earning a 47-percent rating compared with Madison’s 78 percent.

To test the comfort level of LGBT people in Milwaukee at their jobs, Cream City Foundation followed up on HRC’s report by conducting focus groups and an online survey. CCF found that while 85 percent of respondents said they were comfortable being out on the job, 30 percent expressed fear that their sexual orientation could limit their careers.

The report concluded that unless companies in the area improve workplace equality, Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin will continue losing the most talented and promising LGBT employees to neighboring states.

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