Corporate LGBT Solidarity on the Rise

Every year since 2002, the Human Rights Campaign had released their Corporate Equality Index (CEI). When the CEI started, LGBT people in the United States had no federal laws protecting them—they were not even entitled to the most basic of rights: federal protection against hate crimes. 14 years later a lot has changed. Gains on marriage and adoption rights, the right to serve in the military, and in some states, protection from employment and housing discrimination have transformed the everyday lives of the LGBT community. Of course, in some states, the struggle continues. The good news is that while some regions of the U.S. remain resistant to change, corporate solidarity with the LGBT community is on the rise.

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 1.10.45 PMIn 2016, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index reported a record breaking 407 businesses archiving a top rating of 100%. Notably, in their executive summary, the Human Rights Campaign explains, “Even after three significant revisions resulting in more stringent criteria, this is the highest number of 100 percent-rated businesses in the entire history of the CEI. In the first year of the CEI over a decade ago, 13 businesses achieved a top score of 100 percent and in the 2012 CEI, the year of the most recent scorecard updates prior to this 2016 report, just 189 businesses earned top marks.”

Not entirely surprisingly, law firms were nearly twice as likely as other businesses to score 100% on the CEI. Metal and mining companies were least likely to comply with the CEI’s standards for LGBT protections in the workplace.

Criteria for Achieving a Perfect Score on the Corporate Equality Index

What does a business now need to do gain 100% on the HRC’s CEI?

  • Have sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections explicitly included in all operations, both within the U.S. and extending to global operations.
  • Require U.S. contractors to abide by companies’ existing inclusive non-discrimination policies.
  • Implement internal requirements prohibiting company/ law firm philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

11 Top 20 Fortune 1000 Companies Score 100%

This year, for the first time, 11 of the top 20 Fortune 1000 companies received 100% on the CEI. The companies included some expected players, like Apple, but also companies in the manufacturing, oil and telecommunications industry, including:

  • Chevron Corp.
  • Apple Inc.
  • General Motors Co.
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • General Electric Co.
  • AT&T Inc.
  • CVS Health Corp.
  • Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) McKesson Corp.
  • Hewlett-Packard Co.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.

New Gains for Transgender Employees

Beyond the current move to promote LGB rights, 2016 has also seen tremendous gains for transgender employees. The Human Rights Campaign reports that in 2016:

  • Three-fourths of the Fortune 500 and 93% of the entire field of companies included in the Corporate Equality Index began to offer explicit gender identity non discrimination protections in the U.S;
  • Two-fifths of the Fortune 500 and 60 percent of the CEI universe of businesses were now offering transgender-inclusive health care coverage, up from 0 in 2002 and nearly six times as many businesses as five years ago;
  • More than eight in ten of CEI-rated businesses offer education and training programs that specifically include definitions and/ or scenarios on gender identity in the workplace; and,
  • Over three hundred major businesses have adopted gender transition guidelines for employees and their teams to establish best practices in transgender inclusion.

Companies Take Pride in a Perfect Score

I Dough 779x400For many companies, gaining a perfect score on the CEI is a huge source of Pride—something to celebrate and leverage. When news of this year’s CEI was released last November, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, who were among the companies who made the 100% list, decided to bust out and celebrate. As the explained in a statement

Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of commitment to issues of social justice, including gay rights. We’ve supported marriage equality for more than 35 years and, in the late ’80s, we began offering health and insurance benefits to all domestic partners—nixing unjust distinctions between same- and opposite-sex couples. Today, those ideals are integral to our core values that include an unshakable belief that all people deserve full and equal civil rights. To celebrate that sentiment, as well as the recent Supreme Court ruling on Marriage Equality, we renamed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough “I Dough, I Dough” at participating Scoop Shops nationwide. And we’re not resting there. Our 100/100 score on the LGBT Equality Index is just one step toward a greater goal: the continued push for full LGBT rights and discrimination protections across the country.

While a growing number of companies are proud to support Pride and LGBT employees year round, of course, there are still many employers whose scores remain well below the 50% mark on the CEI. The Human Rights Campaign’s annual index is one tool, however, that can help organizations and employees take stock of how far the LGBT community has come and to ensure that progress continues to be made.

June 25, 2016   Updated :June 29, 2016      

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