Published in QVegas issue January 2008
Corporate America in 2007 was marked as a significant year for both the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index and for the state of Nevada. The HRC released its sixth annual Index and Nevada showed up for the first time with a locally-based corporation to receive a perfect score.
The Harrah’s Corporation is that company. Harrah’s does not discriminate against the LGBT employees and provides equal benefits to the LGBT employees and their partners.
The sixth annual Corporate Equality Index shows a major change for the United States. According to the HRC’s Web site (hrc.org) the first Corporate Equality Index was published in 2002 and only 13 businesses received a 100 percent on the Index. However, in 2007, 519 business took part in the evaluation and 195 of them received a perfect score.
According to the Corporate Equality Index, businesses are evaluated on six criteria: Non-discrimination policy, diversity training—sexual orientation; Non-discrimination policy, diversity training and benefits—gender identity; Domestic partner benefits; LGBT employee resource group/ diversity council; Engages in appropriate and respectful advertising and marketing or sponsors LGBT community events or organizations; Employer exhibits responsible behavior toward the LGBT community; does not engage in action that would undermine LGBT equality.
These criteria were met not only on paper for the Harrah’s Corporation, they were also met at each of Harrah’s properties. “Harrah’s takes pride in helping out the community and the employees—making opportunities available for everyone,” said an Eiffel Tower supervisor at the Paris Las Vegas who wished to remain anonymous. “We have a wide variety of employees. It doesn’t matter the age, race, gender or sexual preference.”
Jeremy Wheat, a 30-year-old Harrah’s employee, agreed whole-heartedly with his supervisor. “I am openly gay here, and I’ve never felt discriminated against … There were issues at my previous jobs, but what Harrah’s is doing is great.”
So what is Harrah’s doing? Harrah’s is an equal opportunity corporation. They don’t look at race, and they don’t look at sexual preference when hiring their employees. “They look at personality,” Wheat said. “And gay people tend to have the best personalities—I’m just being honest.” Harrah’s also has a plan for domestic benefits. Employees receive benefi ts for themselves and their signifi cant others, as well.
With more openness from and awareness to the LGBT community, it would seem likely to have more than one Nevada-based company receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index. But that is not the case. “Las Vegas is a pretty conservative town. Most people don’t realize this though because the Strip, in general, is totally different from the rest of Las Vegas,” said an Eiffel Tower ambassador at the Paris, who also wished to remain anonymous.
Although Harrah’s is the only Nevada based corporation on the Index, there are other companies who have also received 100 percent ratings that have branches here. Some of those companies include, Apple, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Nike Inc. and Bank of America.
For more information on the Corporate Equality Index visit www.hrc.org/issues/ workplace.asp.