This column highlights selected groups and organizations working to promote social and economic justice, environmental leadership, or corporate accountability. Walden often partners with featured groups in research and advocacy initiatives.
The Pride Foundation was launched in 1985 in recognition of a need for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community of the Pacific Northwest to establish a grass-roots philanthropic vehicle to bring visibility to LGBT people and to generate resources in support of the community’s ongoing development. The group’s mission is to strengthen, connect, and inspire the LGBT community in pursuit of equality. It accomplishes its goals through grants to organizations, scholarship to students, and leadership development.
Last year, Pride Foundation awarded more than $800,000 in grants and scholarships. The scholarship program is one of the largest in the country available to LGBT students and allies. The foundation recently awarded funds to 75 students who are attending colleges throughout the United States and abroad. It also gave grants to more than 200 organizations working to strengthen the community in Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Washington.
In addition to providing grants and scholarships, Pride Foundation has also effectively utilized its endowment holdings to encourage corporations to add sexual orientation and gender identity into workplace anti-discrimination policies. In 1998, when Pride Foundation began its shareholder activism efforts in partnership with Walden, only one-third of the Fortune 500 companies’ policies included sexual orientation. Today, that number is around 90 percent, and 98 of the Fortune 100 companies include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies.
The organization’s first filings were with GE and McDonald’s in 1999. By 2000, both companies had added sexual orientation to their policies. GE translated the change into 27 languages worldwide, and McDonald’s reissued its employee handbook to every franchise in the United States.
This year, Pride Foundation was very pleased that a resolution to Micron Technology, filed by a NYC pension fund, received a 55.5 percent shareholder vote in favor of sexual orientation protections, one of the largest shareholder votes seen on any social proxy. In response to the vote, the company reluctantly agreed to protect its LGBT employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. In February, Boise-based Washington Group International, in response to Pride Foundation’s filing of a resolution there, decided to add sexual orientation protection to its policies. In April, Precision Castparts, based in Oregon, also agreed to amend its policies rather than put the issue on its shareholder proxy ballot. And just last month, Starbucks announced that it would include gender identity in its policies, after two years of dialogue with Pride Foundation, Starbucks’ employee group, and other organizations.
Ably assisted by Walden, Pride Foundation will continue to work closely with Pacific Northwest companies to ensure that all employees receive the protections they deserve.