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Franklin Covey rewrites policy on gay rights

Franklin Covey Co. has changed the wording of its nondiscrimination policy to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The move was praised by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian organization, which had earlier criticized the company's co-chairman, Stephen R. Covey, for speaking at a fund-raiser for a Hawaii group fighting same-sex marriages.Kim I. Mills, director of education for the Human Rights Campaign, said workers she spoke with in the company said Jon Rowberry, chief executive officer for Franklin Covey, announced the policy change at a companywide meeting Friday.

"We're always pleased with moves toward fairness," Mills said.

Greg Link, vice president of business development for Franklin Covey, said the company - the product of a merger between Franklin Quest and Covey Leadership Centers - has been in the process of redrafting its mission statement since last June.

He said the company's new mission statement contains an endorsement of diversity, in addition to the change in the wording of the company's equal employment policy.

"We have completely re-established our values and one of our values is creating a great place to work," Link said.

"Everybody's really clear that we value diversity," Link said. "It's what we teach. It's in the seven habits" Covey outlined in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

But Covey was blasted by the Human Rights Campaign for appearing at a fund-raising dinner last November for Save Traditional Marriage '96, an organization working to pass a ballot measure in 1998 that would amend the Hawaii Constitution to give legislators the power to determine who may marry.

Newspapers reported in November that Covey told the gathering that marriage is not for same-sex couples. "To me, that is a kind of natural principle for a natural law," Covey said. "And that's why I am behind this kind of movement."

At the time Link said Covey's comments had been taken out of context. Covey later apologized for his comments.

"We are pleased to see the Franklin Covey company demonstrate this commitment to basic fairness and workforce diversity," Mills said. "The company has taken the important step beyond Mr. Covey's apology for his speech in Hawaii, for which we commend it."