stopping discrimination, part 5,394--Money Talks
December 24, 2003 1:41 PM   Subscribe

"It's good policy and good business." NYC's Employees Retirement System (5 funds managing $78.6 billion in holdings) is targeting Fortune 500 companies to adopt policies that specifically bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. One of them, CSX Corp., didn't even wait for their shareholder meeting, but immediately amended their policy in response. These funds recently had great success after a decade-long battle with Cracker Barrel Restaurants--infamous for firing gay and lesbian employees because they don't “demonstrate normal heterosexual values." Here's wishing an especially happy holiday to employees of those companies that have stopped discriminating and hopes for many more to join in. More info on this "shareholder activism" at The Equality Project.
posted by amberglow (4 comments total)
I wonder how many of the big pension funds are holding stock in Safeway and if they all cashed in at once, what effect it would have on Safeway CEO and Super-Scrooge Steve Burd (IMO, the single person responsible for the California supermarket strike, who deserves nothing better than a lifetime job as a WalMart greeter)... Just wondering...
posted by wendell at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2003

That brings up a good point wendell--Safeway is on the list I linked, so is good in that respect, but single-issue activism obviously has its drawbacks if the company doesn't treat employees well generally...I guess those "socially responsible" funds are the best way to go, if you have a choice.
posted by amberglow at 2:08 PM on December 24, 2003

If a CEO excludes a member of a group comprising a significant percentage of the population (say jews, or blacks, or gays) simply due to group membership, he may give his more *humanist* competitor (that is, non-discriminatory competitor) a wider and deeper pool of talent to select his staff from. Which would be a bad idea for a capitalist.

So, shouldn't free marketeers be totally pro-equal rights for everyone?

sorry for stating the obvious
posted by dash_slot- at 4:34 PM on December 24, 2003

dash_slot, I think that depends on the general consuming public sharing those free market ideals in their purest form. However, if a significant majority (e.g. homophobic heterosexuals) is uncomfortable with a small minority, business may be boosted by discriminating against the minorities, especially if this disliked minority doesn't have a lot of economic power (see blacks in the pre-civil rights South). As much as I disagree, Cracker Barrel's regular customers may very well prefer a gay-free environment. That's why we need anti-discrimination laws; the free market is all too susceptible to human bigotry.
posted by nave at 6:05 PM on December 24, 2003

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