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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 28, 2005

Moen joins list of Ohio firms with partner benefits

North Olmsted, Ohio--Moen Incorporated, the top maker of faucets in North America, started the new year by extending full benefits and protections to its LGBT employees.

As part of its diversity initiative, the suburban Cleveland company changed internal policies to include sexual orientation. It began offering domestic partner benefits on January 1.

�Corporate America is doing more for us than our government is,� said Renae Flynn, a senior retail credit and collection analyst with Moen, �and perhaps that will be the test to change society.�

She noted that she found the changes to the policy especially important following the passage of Issue 1 in Ohio last November. The state constitutional amendment bars all government recognition of relationships between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, including the granting of benefits by state, county or local governments.

However, Issue 1 was not part of the equation, according to Tom Herberth, Moen�s director of compensation and benefits.

�The timing had nothing to do with Issue 1,� he said. �We define our corporate initiatives, and one of the things looked at over the last few years are diversity initiatives.�

�We were aware that other companies had gone down this path,� he continued. �It offered a source of benefits to a group of people who by definition otherwise didn�t have that source.�

The benefits are available to about 2,500 qualifying Moen employees in the United States.

Before instituting the plan, Herberth consulted with the human resource departments of other Master Brands companies. Master Brands is Moen�s parent company. He inquired about how they offered benefits, what forms would need to be changed and how, and other nuts-and-bolts issues revolving around the decision to extend the benefits.

According to Herbert, he spoke to his opposite numbers at two other sister companies. He did not know how many of Master Brands other companies offered the benefits.

�This is just a small part of our diversity initiatives, but it certainly goes hand in hand,� Herbert noted. �The world is changing and we need to start looking at new things.�

According to the Human Rights Campaign�s Worknet program, which tracks companies that offer domestic partner benefits and protect employees from discrimination by sexual orientation, the addition of Moen brings to 54 the number of Ohio employers that offer the benefits. That number includes non-profit hospitals and colleges as well as for-profit corporations.

Among the corporations are Abercrombie and Fitch, Arhaus, Eaton, Federated Department Stores, KeyCorp, Procter and Gamble, Nationwide Insurance, Owens Corning and Progressive Insurance.

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