Harris, the financial service organization whose parent company recently announced the purchase of Wisconsin’s M & I bank, has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” The company scored a perfect 100-percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2011 Corporate Equality Index.
Harris is among 337 businesses awarded for their outstanding diversity efforts in the workplace. The company offers several employee affinity groups, including Lion’s Pride, which provides a supportive forum for LGBT employees while offering cultural and educational opportunities and events.
M & I has a diversity program and has reached out to LGBT consumers through advertising in the Wisconsin Gazette.
“Promoting fairness and equality in the workplace not only helps foster an environment where our employees can flourish, but also helps us better understand and serve our diverse customer base – and ultimately helps us achieve our vision to be the bank that defines great customer experience,” said Deirdre Drake, senior vice president of human resources.
Harris’ parent company, Canadian Bank BMO Financial Group, is purchasing Marshall & Ilsley (M & I) Bank for $4.1 billion in stock in an effort to expand its North American business. There’s no word yet on whether BMO will change the name of the M & I branches.
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.