Hubbell, Inc. and FuelCell Energy Add Gender Expression Protections to Workplace Policies (2/7/07)

CONTACT: Margaret J. Covert or Julie Goodridge

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.
PO Box 301840, Boston, MA 02130

Hubbell Incorporated, a Connecticut-based electrical equipment manufacturer, and FuelCell Energy, a Connecticut-based energy company, have both agreed with a shareholder proposal urging them to ban discrimination based on gender identity. NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. in Boston asked each company to amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. After each company agreed to amend its policy, NorthStar withdrew the proposals.

“Including gender identity in the company’s non-discrimination policy is the first signal a company gives employees, and potential employees, that it values all its workers equally,” said Julie Goodridge, President of NorthStar. Both companies already protected gay and lesbian employees from discrimination.

No federal laws exist that protect workers from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Only eight states and 93 cities and towns prohibit gender identity discrimination. Connecticut, home to the headquarters of Hubbell and FuelCell, is one of a handful of states that does prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the law does not explicitly protect the free expression of gender identity.

The lack of protections in the vast majority of the United States leaves many workers vulnerable to abuse. Corporations are beginning to fill the void by including gender identity in their non-discrimination policies. According to the Human Rights Campaign, nearly 25% of Fortune 500 companies have added gender identity to their non-discrimination policies, including GM, Citigroup, HP, Boeing, CostCo and Walgreens.

Over the years, NorthStar has recommended explicit protections for gay and lesbian employees at Berkshire Hathaway, Tootsie Roll, Caterpillar, Fifth Third Bancorp, and Emerson Electric. All have since amended their non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation protections. “As investors, we believe that an open and inclusive workplace nurtures the creativity necessary to build a successful company,” said Goodridge. In 2006, NorthStar began requesting the addition of both sexual orientation and gender identity to non-discrimination policies.

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. is a wealth management firm based in Boston, specializing in socially responsible investing.

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