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Supporting LGBTQ+ Rights in the Workplace

June 18, 2020

New York

The following memo from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen J. Squeri was shared with American Express colleagues on June 17, 2020:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that extends civil rights protections in the workplace to LGBTQ+ individuals. While it is disappointing that it has taken this long to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation, this is another major milestone in the lengthy struggle for equal treatment under the law, and I am glad to see it.

American Express was one of about 200 companies that signed an amicus brief last year urging the Court to rule in favor of this outcome. As we mark Pride Month in many countries around the world, this decision is both something to celebrate and another reminder that we still have a long way to go in the journey toward full inclusion for all.

As I’ve said and will continue to say, I want American Express to be both a diverse company – with a colleague base that represents people of all backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions and viewpoints – and also an inclusive company that values everyone as individuals and where all colleagues feel welcomed and able to achieve their full potential.

We’ve made progress, but as we discussed in our recent conversations about combatting racial bias, we need to do better – for everyone. I repeat: We will not tolerate discriminatory behavior anywhere at American Express, and you have my commitment that we will work to ensure a culture where everyone feels they are treated equally and free to be themselves.

Unfortunately, the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community is ongoing. Around the world, millions of people still face discrimination, and even persecution and violence, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Even in the U.S. the struggle is far from over. Last Friday, I was deeply disappointed to learn that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removed nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in the delivery of health care and health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Although the impact of the Supreme Court decision on these rule changes remains to be seen, I want to assure you that, in any event, it will not affect our U.S. health care plans, which guarantee equal access for LGBTQ+ colleagues.

As we celebrate Pride Month, I encourage all of you to show your support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues by taking advantage of the various virtual activities that our PRIDE networks around the globe are promoting. Most of all I want our LGBTQ+ colleagues to know that we will always have your backs, and we are committed to working toward a world where we can say we truly have equal rights for all.