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HRC on Wal-Mart: Take your holiday shopping elsewhere
HRC on Wal-Mart: Take your holiday shopping elsewhere
by Liz Meyer - SGN Staff Writer

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest Gay rights group, is giving Wal-Mart a "do not buy" rating in its new consumer guide, USA Today reports.

The move comes just in time for Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year. It also comes in a year that saw unprecedented high ratings for companies from the HRC's report card, the Corporate Equality Index. The Index, which scores employers on their treatment of LGBT workers, clients and investors, gave 195 high-profile U.S. businesses a perfect score. When the index was first compiled in 2002, just 13 employers received a 100 percent rating.

That dramatic shift makes the HRC's statement against Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the US, especially relevant.

The HRC said that Wal-Mart has "work to do in furthering equality." Wal-Mart, which has been attacked in the past by other advocacy groups as a penny-pinching Scrooge of an employer, also refuses to offer domestic partner benefits to its Gay and Lesbian workers.

On a scale of 100, Wal-Mart scored a 40. That's a 25 percent decrease from the score it received from HRC in 2006. Wal-Mart was among 54 companies that scored 45 or lower in HRC's 2008 Corporate Equality index, which assigns ratings to 519 large companies.

Wal-Mart rival Target (TGT) rated a "green" 80 in the Equality Index, and the HRC says LGBT consumers should make every effort to shop there.

HRC's low rating comes as Wal-Mart has been enjoying positive publicity about its move this fall to offer better health coverage to its workers. The company had been pummeled by unions and some state legislators who said it was offering unaffordable health insurance plans.

In 2003, the company added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy. Since then, though, the company has shied away from talks about adopting more Queer-friendly policies.

This year, HRC met with Wal-Mart to speak about the possibility of the store providing domestic partnerships for its workers. However, conservative groups angered by Wal-Mart's contributions to gay organizations threatened a boycott, and in June, the company announced a policy to avoid "highly controversial issues."

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