Is the private sector finding empathy?

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Last month at TEDx Tampa Bay one of the presenters, Deena Fidas, Deputy Director of the Public Education and Outreach Department for the Human Rights Campaign gave a great talk on how the private sector is way ahead of the government when it comes to the equal treatment of the LGBT community. I was already aware that corporate America has been an early adopter of equal insurance coverage for life partners for quite some time now. What I did not know was that a number of companies now pay individuals with domestic partners a wage differential to ensure that after paying taxes they bring home the same income as their straight married counterparts.

This new bit of information intrigues me greatly because when discussing my book, Corporate Empathy, I am often challenged whether empathy by a corporation is possible. While identical health benefits are almost expected today, the practice started mainly as a result of market pressures. The practice of paying a differential being implemented by innovative companies like Google is seemingly born from a much different place.

Citing a study, the Times said employees with domestic partners will pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage. Google will essentially cover those costs, the newspaper said, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.

I do not believe the benefit of financial equality being provided to people whom our government is penalizing is due to market or shareholder pressures. I believe we have some large public companies that understand the burden our government is placing on same-sex couples and are just opting to do the right thing…

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