Shareholder Proposals (Item 4 on Proxy Card)
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108, owner of 1,300 shares of the Company’s common stock, proposes the following:
GENDER IDENTITY NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
Whereas: Verizon does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in its written employment policy, yet Verizon's policy already does explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation;
Over 30% of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted written nondiscrimination policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as well as 400 leading private sector companies and eighty-five U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Human Rights Campaign;
Ninety-three City and County Governments and twelve States have passed clear gender identity and expression legislative protections including California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington;
Over 350 U.S. based human rights organizations including the Equality Project Investor Coalition (that advocates for gender identity protections as part of its Equality Principles benchmark), and every U.S. State civil rights advocacy group has endorsed national legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity.
Our company has operations in, and makes sales to institutions in States and Cities that currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;
We believe that corporations that prohibit discrimination both on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees from the widest talent pool;
Resolved: The Shareholders request that Verizon Communications amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, and to substantially implement this policy.
Supporting Statement: Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws are inconsistent with respect to such employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a consistent, corporate wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve complaints internally, and ensure a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees. Verizon will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ POSITION
As an equal opportunity employer, Verizon is committed to operating its business in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and providing a workplace free from discrimination and harassment of any kind. Verizon has a zero tolerance policy for any conduct that is intended to or has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
The Verizon Code of Conduct and our nondiscrimination policy expressly prohibit discrimination, sexual harassment or other unlawful harassment based on sexual orientation, as well as on age, race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability or any other legally protected category under federal, state or local law. A copy of the Code of Conduct can be found on Verizon's website at http://investor.verizon.com/corp_gov/. Verizon reinforces the provisions of the Code of Conduct on an ongoing basis through periodic, mandatory training and through employee communications and workplace postings. In addition, Verizon also provides a 24-hour, toll-free number for employees where they can report compliance issues or concerns.
The Board shares the proponent’s interest in preventing discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity and believes that Verizon’s strong anti-discrimination policies and strict enforcement of its zero tolerance policy make the requested amendment to those policies unnecessary.
The Board of Directors recommends a vote AGAINST this proposal.