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Who’s got the benefits: LGBT positive companies in the Carolinas

by Mark Smith


A sizable number of companies in both Carolinas keep their LGBT employees happy with non-discrimination policies and domestic partnership benefits.

Q-Notes plunged headfirst into researching which companies in the Carolinas had domestic partnership benefits and sexual orientation non-discrimination policies in place back in 2005.
Since that time a number of other companies have jumped on board, which facilitated the need to revisit the issue.

While a number of companies that are new to this list have only recently added non-discrimination policies and domestic partnership benefits, US Airways has had both in place for over five years.

“Health benefits and all travel benefits are extended to all domestic and life partners,” explains US Airways spokesperson Twana Williams. “The travel benefits began in 2001 and health benefits were initiated in 2002.”

American City Business Journals, headquartered in Charlotte, publishes business journals for cities across the country. The company has a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation and offers health insurance coverage to employees’ domestic partners. www.bizjournals.com.

Blackbaud Inc., is the leading global provider of software and related services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations. Located in Charleston, S.C., they maintain a non-discrimination policy and benefits for same-sex spouses.

Located in Durham, Biomerieux is a leading international diagnostics group that specializes in the field of in vitro diagnostics for clinical and industrial applications. The company has a non-discrimination policy and offers insurance benefits for same-sex spouses.

Health Insurance Company Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Chapel Hill offers domestic partnership benefits to unmarried couples of the opposite or same-sex.

The Bob Barker Company, based in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., is the nation’s leading detention supplier. If you’re scratching your head wondering just what that means — in short it’s a massive operation that supplies goods to incarcerated prisoners.

According to their website, the company smashes radios on the floor and grinds toothbrushes on cinderblock walls to see how easily they can be made into shanks (crude knife-like weapons). They screen hygiene products for pork and other animal products to minimize conflicts with the practice of religious beliefs. They also maintain a non-discrimination policy and offer insurance benefits for domestic partners. www.bobbarker.com.

Communications Access Network Inc., a Charleston, S.C. business that supplies interpreter services for deaf speakers, provides domestic partner benefits and maintains a non-discrimination policy. 843-763-3890.

The Constella Group, a leading provider of professional health services worldwide, is located in Durham, N.C. The company has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and it offers domestic partnership benefits. www.constellagroup.com.

Digital Recorders is a technology leader in transportation, law enforcement, and security digital communications systems. They design and manufacture products that improve the flow and mobility of people through transportation infrastructure, mitigate security threats, and enhance law enforcement surveillance capabilities. Incorporated in 1983 in Durham, N.C. the company’s policies include a non-discrimination bylaw and domestic partnership benefits.

What started as Duke Power, a company providing electrical service to the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, is today Duke Energy. One of the largest electric power companies in the United States, it supplies and delivers energy to approximately 3.9 million U.S. customers. The company has nearly 37,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Midwest and the Carolinas, natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky, and more than 4,000 megawatts of electric generation in Latin America. They also provide partnership benefits to employees in same-sex relationships and maintain a non-discrimination policy. www.duke-energy.com.

Recognized as one of the nation’s top universities, Duke University in Durham has attracted students from around the globe for decades. They also provide job security for their LGBT employees, with both a non-discrimination policy and domestic partnership benefits. www.duke.edu.

With a sexual orientation non-discrimination policy already on the books for a number of years, the grocery store chain Food Lion, headquartered in Salisbury, N.C., announced late last year that they are now providing domestic partnership benefits. www.foodlion.com.

Family Health International in Research Triangle Park is a nonprofit research and technical assistance organization dedicated to improving lives worldwide through a highly diversified program of research, education and services in family health. FHI designs, manages, and evaluates international HIV/AIDS-related programs that are broad in scope, encompassing prevention as well as care and support services for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. LGBT employees work in a positive environment that includes a non-discrimination policy, as well as domestic partnership benefits. www.fhi.org.

One of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, Furman University in Greenville, S.C., bans sexual orientation discrimination and provides staff with a domestic partnership insurance plan. www.furman.edu.

Global Knowledge Network, based in Cary, N.C., is the largest privately held provider of training, enterprise learning services, and software solutions for information technology (IT) and management professionals. The company offers a broad array of hands-on IT, project management, and professional skills training featuring proprietary core and custom curriculum as well as content from leading companies, including Cisco, Microsoft, Nortel, Oracle, and Red Hat. All employees are protected from sexual orientation discrimination and have access to a domestic partnership benefits plan.

Goodrich Corporation, formerly tire maker BFGoodrich, is now focused on its aerospace business. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the company bans discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and offers domestic partnership benefits. www.goodrich.com.

The home-improvement giant Lowe’s, headquartered in Mooresville, N.C., now offers protection from sexual orientation discrimination and domestic partnership benefits for its employees.
McKinney & Silver, a marketing communications firm in Raleigh, N.C., has a non-discrimination policy that prevents discrimination in the workplace regarding sexual orientation and gender expression. Domestic partner health benefits are also available. www.cks.com.

The gay-owned and operated Mitchell Gold Company, a furniture manufacturer in Taylorsville, N.C., bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression. As well, they offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners. www.mitchellgold.com.

Based in Raleigh, Progress Energy — in the traditionally conservative utility industry — said it would start offering domestic-partner benefits to its 15,000 workers and retirees next year. About 200 are expected to apply, based on experience at other companies. The policy will give unmarried couples — whether gay or straight — the same benefits that are available to spouses. The benefits require the unmarried couple to have lived together for at least six months in an exclusive relationship. The partners can’t be close blood relatives.

Replacements Ltd., in Stoney Creek, N.C., boasts the world’s largest selection of old and new dinnerware, including china, stoneware, crystal, glassware, silver, stainless, and collectibles.
The company is gay-owned and operated, has a non-discrimination policy and offers health insurance benefits for gay and lesbian employees and their partners. www.replacements.com.
Located in Winston-Salem, N.C., Reynolds American Inc., the parent company of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, has a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation in its employee handbook or manual. It also offers health insurance coverage to employees’ domestic partners. www.reynoldsamerican.com.

Software giant SAS Institute Inc., located in Cary, N.C., has a non-discrimination policy protecting gay and lesbian employees. It also offers domestic partnership benefits. www.sas.com.

In Durham, N.C., Self-Help is a community development lender that has provided over $3.8 billion in financing to 40,000 home buyers, small businesses and nonprofits. Their non-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation and they offer insurance coverage to employees’ domestic partners. www.self-help.org.

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