Campus gas provider ranked last in terms of LGBT employment policies

| Assignment Editor

The Laclede Group ranked dead last this year in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index of companies’ LGBT employment policies.

In the recent past, all the gas used on the Washington University campus was provided by the Laclede Group. The gas used on the Danforth Campus, the South 40 and the Medical Campus is purchased from Laclede Energy Resources on the open market while the gas for the other properties is bought directly from Laclede Gas.

Both Laclede Gas and Laclede Energy Resources are subsidiaries of the Laclede Group.

Companies ranked on the Fortune 1000 and Forbes 200 lists and firms on the AmLaw 200 ranking are invited to participate in the Corporate Equality Index.

Along with the Exxon Mobil Corporation, Laclede was one of only two corporations to recieve a score of zero points. Three hundred five companies received perfect scores of 100. Five hundred ninety companies were rated in the index.

The index allots points based on a variety of criteria. Among these criteria are the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the anti-discrimination policy, benefits for legal partners and spouses, transgender health insurance coverage and the agreement that the company will not do work that goes against the goal of LGBT equality.

Students on campus are calling for the Laclede Group to change its policies.

“I think we should find someone else to get gas from,” sophomore Elizabeth Thames said. “It is baffling to me that there are still companies that discriminate based on sexual orientation. I think gender identity is like any other demographic classification; it should never dictate whether you should be hired.”

Thames thinks that the best way to combat this discrimination is to put pressure on the company.

Senior Victoria Blood also thinks that students can effect change.

“We can have an awareness of what is going on. People in our generation just take these rights for granted,” Blood said. “If we increased awareness, maybe people would have more of a right to choose another company.”

Many students who live off campus also use Laclede Gas as their gas utilities provider.

“I wish that we could avoid using Laclede Gas, but I guess that it is up to the convenience of each individual person,” said Evan Wilson, co-president of Pride Alliance. “It would be nice if we could boycott them.”

According to Samir Luther, associate director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Project, Laclede Gas added sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy after the index was released.

Members of the University administration and Laclede Gas declined to comment for this article.

The following non-discrimination statement can now be found on Laclede Gas’ Web site:

“Laclede will hire, place, upgrade, transfer, promote, recruit, solicit for employment, treat during employment, pay and otherwise compensate, select for training and development and lay off or dismiss without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or information protected by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.”

Gender identity is still missing from the nondiscrimination statement.

“It is weird that they would get a zero and then not educate themselves completely on the issue. Transgender employees need to have equal rights too,” Wilson said. “It is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is a shame that they didn’t include gender identity.”

This is a shared sentiment. Although the full effects of the ranking remain unclear, students are grateful for the small changes that the survey has caused.

“We are definitely encouraged because Laclede Gas added sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policy, and we would encourage them to make their policy fully inclusive by adding gender identity,” Luther said.

Laclede Gas is in a unique position. The company owns the pipelines that transport gas throughout the St. Louis area.

According to Luther, because the Laclede Group is in such a position of power within the St. Louis community, it tends not to be accountable to its customers.

“Laclede Gas is a unique company because you can’t really go to anyone else to get your gas,” Luther said. “They are missing the customer case. They don’t get that even though consumers do not choose where they get their gas, they still care about LGBT inclusion.”

“It could definitely use some work,” Wilson said. “They could definitely make it a lot better, but I am not sure that that should stop Wash. U. from using Laclede Gas.”

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