Human Rights Campaign has today unveiled its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The index gives scores (out of 100) to Fortune 1000 companies and top law firms in the US in relation to their LGBT-friendly policies and practices.
This is the 17th year that HRC has compiled its Index. It has inspired similar rankings in other countries around the world.
Despite LGBT rights facing setbacks in the US, and the looming threat of a Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom, HRC says this year’s Index is the biggest yet.
Besides the aforementioned Fortune 1000 and top-grossing 200 law firms (as rated by American Lawyer magazine), other companies request to be included.
To take part, they have to submit detailed surveys on such matters as non-discrimination policies, transgender health cover and their public commitment to LGBT equality.
Of the biggest companies that didn’t choose to participate, 137 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.
A record-breaking year for the Corporate Equality Index
A record-breaking 609 businesses earned the CEI’s top score of 100 – an 18% increase on last year’s 517. Among the 101 companies to score 100 for the first time are Allstate Insurance Co., Dollar General Corp., FedEx Corp., Kohl’s Corp., L’Oréal USA Inc. and Tiffany & Co.
A further 65 companies debut on the Index for the first time this year, including Dunkin’ Brands (owners of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins), GODADDY, Lowe’s Companies, Lyft, Nokia, Pinterest, TripAdvisor. and Warby Parker.
However, one notable absence if Wal-Mart. The number 1 Fortune 500 company has previously been vocal in its support of LGBT rights, and scored 100 on last year’s CEI.
However, due to the fact that it is was recently the subject of two LGBT-related employment complaints, its ranking has been suspended.
In explanation of the company’s suspension, HRC states: ‘During the CEI survey cycle, two Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determinations were made public in the cases of Jessica Robison and Charlene Bost. These determinations pointed to significant enforcement gaps in Wal-Mart’s non-discrimination policy, specifically with regards to sex and gender identity. Pending remedial steps by the company, the CEI rating is suspended.’
Robison, a transgender employer with a Wal-Mart subsidiary Sam’s Club, complained to the EEOC that she had been denied access to transgender healthcare. The EEOC came down in her favor.
Approached for comment, a Wal-Mart spokesperson sent the following comment: ‘We are proud of our work on LGBTQ-inclusive and nondiscriminatory policies. We’re disappointed with the HRC’s decision to temporarily suspend our score, which was going to be rated at 100 percent for the second year in a row.
‘While we respect the HRC’s work, we are confident in Walmart’s leading practices that support our LGBTQ communities and look forward to further educating them on our policies.’
Other key findings from this year’s Corporate Equality Index include:
- Of the employers in the CEI with global operations (59%) 98% extend sexual orientation and gender identity-based workplace protections throughout their international operations.
- Fifty five percent of the Fortune 500 and over three-fourths (79%) of the CEI universe of businesses offer transgender-inclusive health care coverage, up from 0 in 2002 and nearly three times as many businesses as five years ago.
- 997 organizations were scored on this year’s Index, up from 887 last year.
- Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 83% of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3% in 2002.
In a statement, HRC President Chad Griffin said, ‘At a time when the rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump-Pence Administration and state legislatures across the country, hundreds of top American companies are driving progress toward equality in the workplace.
‘The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their operations around the globe and impacting millions of people beyond our shores.
‘In addition, many of these companies have also become vocal advocates for equality in the public square, including the dozens that have signed on to amicus briefs in vital Supreme Court cases and the 106 corporate supporters of the Equality Act.
‘We are proud to have developed so many strong partnerships with corporate allies who see LGBTQ equality as a crucial issue for our country and for their businesses.’
Tougher criteria for future indexes
In order to keep promoting LGBT equality, HRC adjusts its ranking criteria each year. The 2018 Index stuck to the same criteria as last year, but next year’s Index will be slightly tougher. It will deduct marks from rankings if companies fail to show that they include LGBT businesses in their supplier diversity program.
This is good news for LGBT-owned businesses looking to pick up contracts from big corporations. The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) welcome the move.
‘Contracting with LGBT suppliers as part of a fully inclusive Supplier Diversity program isn’t just a best practice across the Fortune 500, it’s now a stand-alone criteria on the HRC Corporate Equality Index,’ Justin Nelson, Co-Founder & President, NGLCC told GSN.
‘Working with NGLCC certified LGBT Business Enterprises alongside other diverse businesses ensures a surge of competition and innovation, which results in more competitive bids and a stronger bottom line for companies. There has never been a more important time for companies to stand with— and invest in— the LGBT community.’