Apple, Ford, HP and 10 other fortune-ranked companies recently received 100 percent ratings in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) report, a national benchmark for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) workplace inclusion.
Other fortune-ranked companies to receive perfect scores include Chevron, General Motors, GE, AT&T, Bank of America, McKesson, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, IBM and Citigroup.
To earn a perfect score, companies must display best-in-class demonstrations of corporate commitments to LGBT workers, HRC says. To put this into context, only 13 firms earned a 100 percent in the inaugural CEI 12 years ago. Today there are more than 300, which span across industries, geographies and size.
Launched in 2002, the CEI serves as a roadmap for major U.S. business’ adoption of inclusive policies, practices and benefits for LGBT employees, HRC says. It has since become a nationally recognized benchmarking report for businesses to gauge their level of LGBT workplace inclusion against competitors.
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HRC says the number of employers rated from the first CEI to the present has more than doubled – from 319 to 734. This encompasses all major industry sectors and geographic regions of the U.S.
In what was a historic year of progress for the equal rights of LGBT Americans, corporate America stood out as a leader in the fight for basic fairness and dignity, HRC says. In 2013, hundreds of major businesses signed onto historic amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8.
“This will go down in history as the year that corporate support for equality left the boardroom and reached each and every corner of this country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Not only do fair-minded companies guarantee fair treatment to millions of LGBT employees in all 50 states, but now those same companies are fighting for full legal equality in state legislatures, in the halls of Congress and before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
According to HRC, over 120 businesses joined a public coalition to urge Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed federal law that would provide consistent nationwide legal protections from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The CEI also reveals record numbers of major businesses updating their non-discrimination policies and benefits packages well ahead of federal mandates to support LGBT employees and their families.
In fact, more Fortune 500 companies have implemented inclusive workplace non-discrimination policies than ever before — 91 percent provide explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 61 percent on the basis of gender identity, a historic high. Sixty-seven percent offer same-sex partner benefits, another record.
Corporate America also has seen a proliferation of workplace protections, health care benefits and practices for transgender employees, HRC says. In just four years, the number of major employers covering medically necessary sex reassignment surgery for employees has gone from 49 to 340, including 28 percent of the Fortune 500. Over 260 major employers also have implemented stronger and supportive inclusion guidelines for their transitioning employees.
“Corporate America has long recognized the imperative of LGBT inclusion by implementing their own LGBT-friendly policies ahead of lawmakers,” said Workplace Equality Program Director Deena Fidas. “We are at the front of a new era in which major businesses are not only meeting ever-higher new bars for workplace fairness, they are exceeding them by becoming social and public policy change agents in the process. They recognize equality is not just the right thing to do, it is sound business practice.”
LGBT rights already has become major point of contention for the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympics, which, while expected to be the first zero-waste Olympics in history, will be held in a country that has effectively outlawed being openly gay.