Nike (NYSE: NKE) has announced that it is expanding eligibility for benefits to include dependent children of an employee's permanent partner. This change is effective today.Permanent partners of Nike employees have been eligible for benefits since April 1, 1994. Nike defines a permanent partner as someone of either gender with whom an employee lives, and with whom the employee signs an affidavit stating that they share lives as one would with a spouse. Eligible children include unmarried natural children, stepchildren, and children who are dependents by virtue of a legal decree such as adoption or guardianship.Nike's decision to expand coverage to eligible children is one example of the company's support of a strong diversity agenda. According to statistics from national gay and lesbian rights organizations, Nike is one of only 87 companies (17%) among the Fortune 500 who extend benefit coverage to an employee's permanent partner. Only 35 of the companies (7%) on the Fortune 500 offer benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples."Nike considers its leadership in this area to be a competitive advantage," said Jeffrey Cava, Nike vice president of human resources. "By expanding our support for all employees and their families, we're putting specific actions behind our commitment to a diverse workplace."