Laclede Gas moving in the right direction

Two months ago, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation rated Laclede Gas Company as the worst place of employment in the nation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered workers, tied only with ExxonMobil. After a March 26 protest championed by Show Me No H8 and other local activist groups, Laclede has officially changed its company policy to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.The official changes include a clause appended to the company’s non-discrimination policy outlining specific protection for workers “without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or information protected by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), or other protected status, in accordance with Federal, State, and local laws.” Laclede Gas spokesperson Robert Arrol has also issued a statement inviting HRC to do another survey with the newly implemented policies.

We believe that this change from Laclede Gas is a step in the right direction and shows that the corporation is at least in part listening to the local St. Louis community. Because it has a monopoly on natural gas in the St. Louis area, Laclede Gas’s policies strongly affect Wash. U. as well as the local St. Louis community. This recent victory is a crucial step in the right direction toward ending discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.

However, we should put this event into perspective: though Laclede Gas’ policy change shows the efficacy of local involvement and activism, efforts such as this one must be continuous. It is our responsibility—both as ­students and as citizens—to work within the local community to push for causes such as this one. If anything, Laclede’s recent actions serve to show us that involvement can actually make a difference. We should take the real results of their initative as incentive to take part in our broader community.

This issue should inspire further engagement and activism across the board. Laclede, for its part, can continue to improve the language in its policies, and to make sure that this language invokes real substantive change. Despite Robert Arrol’s confidence in Laclede’s protection of LGBT rights, we should not take it for granted that discrimination in the workplace is no longer an issue for Laclede. For example, the non-discrimination policy still does not include gender identity in its delineations.

Still, Laclede should be applauded for taking a step in the right direction while other companies such as ExxonMobil have refused to address the issue. Hopefully, working closely with groups such as HCR will move Laclede’s policies in the right direction. Ideally Laclede’s F will become an A+ in the near future, though as of now it’s more like a B.

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