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CO Companies Practice Workplace Inclusion, Compliance by Choice

PHOTO: Fostering a diverse and inclusive engineering workforce is a top priority for CH2M HILL and employees frequently represent the firm at high school and college career fairs like this one in Milwaukee.
PHOTO: Fostering a diverse and inclusive engineering workforce is a top priority for CH2M HILL and employees frequently represent the firm at high school and college career fairs like this one in Milwaukee.
August 22, 2012

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Some Colorado firms are "top of the class" for their workplace anti-discrimination policies.

The Equity Forum has released its Fortune 500 Non-Discrimination Project, and found a record 479 companies are compliant, or voluntarily include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Seven are based in Colorado, including Englewood's C-H-2-M Hill.

Karen Nakandakare, human resources director for the engineering firm, says even if it wasn't against the law in Colorado to discriminate based on sexual orientation, they'd still have anti-discrimination policies in place.

"It's not just an approach, it really is a value. That is truly how we move forward on what we do. It's all about respect, for all of our employees."

At CH2M, efforts include a global diversity and inclusion group, and hosting gay and lesbian high school students interested in science and engineering careers at a summer workshop. One of those students, from the Rainbow Alley program, asked that her name not be used to help preserve her privacy at school. She says the CH2M experience made her realize that an engineering career is an option - and college is a must.

"I didn't really know exactly what it was to be an engineer or what it really entailed. So, being able to go into these places and seeing like, 'Oh, this is what you actually do,' these stereotypes aren't true - that was very very helpful for me."

Engineer Heidi Bauer worked with some of the students who visited CH2M Hill.

"I wanted them to know that there is a place that they can use their creativity in those fields. I also wanted them to know that, in these types of careers, it's not about who you are as much as what you know."

Colorado law doesn't necessarily guarantee compliance, however. Denver-based Dish Network and Liberty Interactive in Englewood joined 19 other businesses ranked non-compliant by the Equity Forum.

The full study is online at equalityforum.com/fortune500.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO