A new report shows that there has been a major increase in workplace protection for LGBT workers in the US since 2003.

The number of Fortune 500 companies that ban workplace discrimination for transgender Americans has risen 60 percent since January 2006 and has quadrupled since 2003, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s State of the Workplace for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans 2006-2007 report, released this week.

The report also showed steady growth in the number of employers offering domestic partner benefits over the last year. “It took the gay civil rights movement nearly two decades to see the growth that the transgender community has seen in the last five years in terms of workplace protections,” said HRC Foundation President Joe Solmonese.

“Fortune 500 companies are moving decisively to protect the entire GLBT community from workplace discrimination and it is time for our nation’s laws to catch up.”

Since January 2006, the number of Fortune 500 companies that include gender identity in their non-discrimination policies has gone from 78 to 125. In 2003, only eight companies had such policies.

Employers across industries have added protections for transgender workers. In the aerospace and defense industries, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman and Boeing followed Raytheon’s 2005 announcement that it will protect transgender employees from discrimination.

Other companies that expanded their non-discrimination policies include Internet giants Google and Yahoo!; supermarket giants Safeway and Costco; pharmaceutical firms Merck, Eli Lilly and DuPont; and Marriott, Hilton and Starwood among hotels.

Last year, the HRC reported that – for the first time – a majority of Fortune 500 companies provide benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Since then, 17 more companies have added the benefits, bringing the total to 267 – or 53 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies include workplace protections based on an employees’ sexual orientation, according to the report – up from 51 percent in 1995.

“This is a clear indication that successful, mainstream American businesses can do well while also doing the right thing for their transgender employees,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project.

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