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Investors Urge Emerson to Bar Discrimination Against Gays, Lesbians

Pride Foundation and Domini Social Investments Say Company’s Employment Policies Should Forbid Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

NEW YORK, NY & SEATTLE, WA – Pride Foundation, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community foundation has filed a shareholder resolution with Emerson. (Ticker: EMR) requesting that the electrical equipment manufacturer amend its employment opportunity policy to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.
 
The resolution was co-filed with Domini Social Investments, manager of the Domini Social Equity Fund (NASDQ: DSEFX), the nation’s oldest and largest socially responsible index fund, and Ms. Janet Francis King, a private investor concerned about discrimination in the workplace.   
 
The shareholder resolution will be brought before Emerson’s annual shareholder meeting to take place on February 5, 2002.  An identical resolution brought before last year’s annual meeting was defeated but received over 12% approval, entitling the filers to bring the resolution forward again this year.  Ongoing negotiations with Emerson have been unsuccessful.
 
“Emerson executives have stated their commitment to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Adam Kanzer, Domini’s Director of Shareholder Advocacy.  “We applaud the company for this commitment, but an internal, unwritten policy is not enough.  We want Emerson to formalize this policy by putting it in writing for employees, customers and all the world to see.”
 
“Nearly 300 Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies,” continued Kanzer. “According to the Human Rights Campaign, over the past year, approximately 41 Fortune 500 companies joined these ranks by amending their policies.  We are asking Emerson to join these companies in ensuring a fair workplace.”
 
“We want Emerson Electric to be inclusive, to attract and retain the best employees, and to send a message to gay and lesbian workers that they are valued and respected,” added Audrey Haberman, Executive Director of Pride Foundation.  “Non-discrimination policies are not official until they are put in writing, and until they are, Emerson will fall short of these goals.”
 
“Discrimination is bad business and I am glad Emerson doesn’t practice it,” stated Janet Francis King. “Lets let the world hear about our good business by adding words to our actions.”
 
The shareholder resolution cited a study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force finding significant levels of workplace discrimination and harassment against gay men and lesbians in twenty American cities.    
 
Since 1987, Pride Foundation has funded more than $3 million in grants and scholarships to strengthen the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Located in Washington state, the Foundation has worked successfully with General Electric and McDonald’s to add sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policies. Pride Foundation stewards a $4.5 million endowment.