The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRD), the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, has honored 337 major U.S. companies in its 2012 list of the 'Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality."
"We're honored to recognize a record number of employers this year who have taken the steps to treat their LGBT employees like the valuable assets they are," said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a release.
"These companies have shown a commitment to their employees through fair hiring and employment practices and recognize that equal treatment of LGBT employees is not only the right thing to do, but also a good business practice."
Companies receiving the award scored 100% on the HRC Foundation's new Corporate Equality Index, a rating of American worksplaces' policies, practices and diversity efforts relating to LGBT workers.
Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs garnered top honors for the 2011 Innovation Award for Workplace Equality, recognizing a specific program that furthers LGBT inclusion in the workplace.
In 2002, only 13 businesses were recognized by the first CEI with a top score, while this year, 190 cross-industry corporations (such as Kraft and Dow) received a 100% score including 10 of the top 20 Fortune-ranked companies.
- While the inclusion of sexual orientation in non-discrimination policies has become a standard since 2002, the addition of gender identity is now part of the policies of 50% of Fortune 500 companies for the first time, a growth rate of 1567% since 2002.
- The number of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic partnership benefits has increased by 76% since 2002.
- The greatest strides have come in the area of transgender-inclusive health care coverage. As a result of new criteria instituted by HRC this year that is a requisite to a perfect score, companies offering comprehensive health care coverage to their transgender workers has increased to 207 from 85 last year and 49 in 2009.
While participation remains voluntary, companies participating have doubled since 2002 when 319 companies participated, to 636 companies in 2011.
With no federal non-discrimination laws and limited state protections, the CEI has become the de facto standard-bearer of compliance in good and right business practices.
“In spite of the fact that 77% of the American public favors the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, there are no federal laws barring workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Americans can also still be fired in 29 states on the basis of their sexual orientation and in 34 states on the basis of their gender identity.”
The report is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.
The HRC also just released its guide to U.S. brands rated on businesses' treatment of LGBT employees, "Buying for Workplace Equality 2012" which divides businesses and their products into red, yellow and green categories based on their CEI score.
“The holiday buying season is upon us and this year we again have the chance to send a message to businesses that we are watching," said Solmonese.
"Fair-minded consumers who care about how a company treats their LGBT employees have a powerful tool in the Buying for Workplace Equality Guide. In this economy, when every dollar counts, it is particularly important for companies to see that LGBT inclusion is good for the bottom line."
The guide is available for download and viewing online at www.hrc.org/BuyersGuide.
"We are honored to receive the 2011 HRC Innovation Award for our Ally Strategy initiative," said Edith Hunt, managing director and chief diversity officer for Goldman Sachs. "While this recognition shows we have made significant progress, we know there is still much work to be done.”
It’s a sad state of affairs that a CEI has to exist at all, but given that, kudos to the HRC and to America’s corporations for increased awareness, education and compliance.