Microsoft Honored for Pioneering Work in Fostering Diversity

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13, 2001 — Microsoft has been honored for its pioneering work on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community with the annual Corporate Vision Award of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.

The L.A. Center, the largest gay and lesbian organization in the world, credited Microsoft with being one of the first companies worldwide to offer employee benefits to domestic partners and to include sexual orientation in its corporate nondiscrimination policy.

“Microsoft strongly believes that an inclusive work environment and a diverse employee base have been critical elements of our corporate culture, not only making Microsoft a great place to work, but also enabling us to better understand our customers and create better products,”
said Ben Waldman, vice president of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices Division. The first openly gay executive at the company, Waldman accepted the award on behalf of Microsoft at ceremonies in Hollywood on Dec. 8.

California Governor Gray Davis and numerous entertainment celebrities also attended the awards ceremony. The L.A. Center’s individual award was presented to Bruce Cohen, the Academy Award-winning co-producer of the film “American Beauty

In addition to its benefits and its nondiscrimination policies, Microsoft also was recognized for its support of GLEAM, the companys 400-person internal gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organization, as well as for its sponsorship of community activities in the Seattle area, where the company is headquartered. Among these are the annual Northwest AIDS Walk, the Seattle Gay Freedom Day parade, the local Out and Equal conference, and regular social and educational events.

The company also received praise for its successful effort to lobby against various local anti-gay initiatives and bills, and for its strong support of a coalition of businesses advocating passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Software and equipment donations to numerous lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil-rights and service organizationsincluding the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Centeralso were noted.

“I feel lucky to have worked at a company that doesnt just tolerate diversity,”
Waldman said,
“but actively seeks it out and cherishes it.”

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