The 2017 Corporate Equality Report Released

With Pride Day just around the corner, many corporations are getting out their rainbow flags and gearing up to celebrate the LGBT community. Only twenty-five years ago, however, corporate participation in Pride events was rare. Beyond a few alcohol companies who frequently sponsored early Pride Day events but for obvious reasons (Pride is a time to party, and Absolute Vodka and other early Pride corporate sponsors were well aware of the direct return on investment their sponsorship would yield), few corporations had any connection to Pride events. Now the reverse is true.Thousands of employees from companies such as Apple, Google and Yelp march in Pride Day parades around the nation More importantly, every year, the percentage of companies committed to LGBT issues year round continues to increase.

Today’s post looks at highlights from the Human Right’s Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index 2017.  Now in its 15th year, the report ranks companies on myriad levels to determine which organizations are the safest and most supportive environments for people who identity as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. This year, 515 employers earned a perfect score of 100%. One notable difference between this year’s report and last’s year’s report is that there was an significant increase in the number of organization’s offering transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage: 647 in 2017 versus only 511 in 2016.

Highlights from the 2017 Corporate Equality Index

  • A record 327 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses now have an official CEI ratings based on submitted surveys (only 321 did last year), with an average rating of 91 compared to 87 in 2016.
  • 199 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses achieved a 100 percent rating (compared to 151 last year).
  • Ninety-two percent of the Fortune 500 include “sexual orientation” in their non-discrimination policies and 82 percent include “gender identity.”
  • For the first time, half of Fortune 500 companies offer transgender inclusive health care benefits, including surgical procedures.
  • Fifty percent of the Fortune 500 and nearly three-fourths (73%) of the CEI universe of businesses offer transgender-inclusive health care coverage, up from 0 in 2002.
  • A majority of CEI-rated businesses (86%) offer education and training programs that specifically include definitions and/or scenarios on gender identity in the workplace.

Top LGBT-Positive Companies

While one might expect tech companies to lead the pack, in fact, the range of Fortune 1000 companies who scored a perfect score of 100 on the Corporate Equality Index are highly eclectic and cut across industries. This year the following companies in the top 20 of Fortune 100 companies reported perfect scores:

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
  • Chevron Corp.
  • Apple Inc.
  • General Motors Co.
  • General Electric Co.
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • CVS Health Corp.
  • McKesson Corp.
  • AT&T Inc.
  • Verizon Communications Inc.
  • Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)
  • HP Inc.

Notably, in order to score 100% on the Corporate Equality Index, a company must meet the following criteria:

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

The Struggle Continues

As the Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, emphasizes, “IN 2016, THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY WAS subjected to unprecedented attacks – from state lawmakers plotting to undermine our historic gains, to tragic, unimaginable experiences of violence, to those who pledged to roll back our rights from the highest offices in the land.” However, he further observes, “During it all, the unstoppable beat of progress towards greater equality in the places many LGBTQ Americans spend most of their daily lives — their workplaces — didn’t just remain steady, it sped up.”

Griffin’s insights are echoed throughout the report. The authors of the Corporate Equality Index observe, “LGBT Americans can get legally married but remain at risk of being denied services for who
they are or risk being fired simply for getting married and wearing their wedding ring to the
office the next day.” As they further emphasize, “Lacking protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity through federal and consistent state law, it remains legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in employment, housing, and access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. Until LGBT Americans have full equality through the Equality Act, the CEI standards will
continue to fill the void left by federal and state law, better serving the U.S. workforce.”

What’s clear is that if activists and legislators were once on their own, in 2017, the corporate world, including Forture 100, 500 and 1000 companies, are now playing an increasingly major role in the fight for LGBT rights in the workplace and society in general.

June 10, 2017   Updated :June 10, 2017      

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