WASHINGTON - The nation's major companies and law firms are advancing in record numbers vital policies and practices to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) workers around the world, according to the 2017 Corporate Equality Index released today by the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
The Corporate Equality Index ( CEI ), launched in 2002 to assess LGBT-inclusive policies and practices at Fortune 500 companies, also highlights how corporate leaders are increasingly stepping up to play a leading role in opposing anti-equality legislation — from statehouses to the U.S. Capitol. Through their actions, taken as LGBTQ workers and customers have been facing a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures across the country, business leaders are building on their longstanding commitment to expanding workplace equality for LGBTQ people.
This year, a record-breaking 517 businesses earned the CEI's top score of 100, up from 407 last year. That's a single-year increase of more than 25 percent — the largest jump in the 15-year history of the nation's premiere benchmarking tool for LGBT workplace equality. Leadership demonstrated by these businesses, including speaking out against discriminatory laws like North Carolina's HB2, reflect more than a decade of work inside these companies to expand LGBT, and particularly transgender, workplace equality.
"Even in the face of relentless attempts to undermine equality, America's leading companies and law firms remain steadfast and committed to supporting and defending the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "The unprecedented expansion of inclusive workplaces across the country and around the globe not only reflects our progress, it helps drive it. As we enter a new chapter in our fight for equality, support from the business community will be more critical than ever to protect our historic advancements over the last decade and to continue to push equality forward for workers, customers, and families around the world."
Over the last several years, CEI-rated companies have dramatically expanded their support for transgender workers. When the CEI launched, just three percent of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination protections that included gender identity. Today, that number is 82 percent. In a historic display of support for transgender equality, 68 companies joined HRC to file an amicus brief earlier this year supporting the U.S. Department of Justice's effort to block some of the most egregious anti-transgender aspects of North Carolina's HB2 law. And more than 200 business leaders signed on to an open letter urging North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and the state's General Assembly to repeal the harmful law.
The record number of companies earning a score of 100 in the most rigorous evaluation in the history of the CEI, reflects their commitment to sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections — at home and around the world — as well as to adopting LGBT-inclusive practices and benefits such as establishing employee resource groups and offering trans-inclusive health benefits.
"Through 15 editions of the annual Corporate Equality Index, major private sector employers have demonstrated over and over that inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it makes for a stronger, more successful business," said Deena Fidas, Director of HRC's Workplace Equality Program. "From centuries-old companies to those that have existed for just a few years, major employers have adopted LGBT-inclusive policies and benefits at rates that continue to outpace lawmakers and lead the way forward."
Last year, the CEI for the first time expanded its benchmarks for inclusion to include global policies, recognizing the worldwide impact of many Fortune 500 companies. The community has responded, and this year 92% of CEI-rated companies include both sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections that apply to workers domestically and internationally.
This fall HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program was launched: it is a formal program with partners on the ground to grow the number of Mexican and Latin American businesses adopting LGBT-inclusive policies and practices. A CEI launch event will be held later today at The Dow Chemical Company in Mexico City. In addition to The Dow Chemical Company, HRC Equidad MX staff will be joined by leaders from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, J.P. Morgan Chase, and PEMEX, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company to celebrate and mark the importance of full LGBT inclusion in their respective organizations.
The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:
-Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
-Public commitment to LGBT equality
This year 887 companies and firms were officially rated and, in addition to the record number of companies receiving a perfect score of 100, progress continued across workplaces, including:
-93 percent of rated companies had adopted sexual orientation equal employment policies for U.S. and global operations and 92 percent had gender identity equal employment policies for U.S. and global operations.
-Same-sex domestic partner or spousal benefits were provided by 98 percent of rated companies.
-73 percent of rated companies offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, up from 60 percent from last year, the largest single year increase in trans-inclusive health benefits since the coverage was added to the CEI.
The full report is available online at hrc.im/CEIReport .
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.