A record number of the nation’s major companies and law firms are advancing policies and practices to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) workers around the world, according to the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
This year, 609 businesses earned the CEI’s top score of 100, up from 517 last year – an increase of 18 percent. This sets a new benchmark for corporate leadership in the 16-year history of the CEI.
Current Political Climate Notwithstanding
HRC notes that this has occurred despite efforts by the Trump-Pence administration to dismantle Obama-era protections for LGBTQ people and undertake new actions, including attempts to bar transgender troops.
“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,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC.
“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.”
HRC points out that the LGBTQ community is not explicitly protected by federal non-discrimination law – but notes that companies are bridging the gap for their employees and beyond.
The global number of employees with a corporate non-discrimination policy protecting against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination is 14.5 million. In addition, 106 top businesses are corporate supporters on the Equality Act, landmark federal legislation that would provide the same basic nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people as other protected groups under federal law.
About the Corporate Equality Index
The CEI was launched in 2002 to assess LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices at Fortune 500 companies.
Over the last several years, CEI-rated companies have dramatically expanded their support for transgender workers. When the CEI launched, just 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination protections that included gender identity. Today, that number is 83 percent.
HRC’s work through the CEI, often through one-on-one consultation with individual companies, has helped employers move toward full inclusion for their transgender employees. For example, even as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has come under attack by lawmakers, trans-inclusive healthcare coverage has become a business norm; 79 percent of companies participating in this year’s CEI now offer transgender workers at least one healthcare plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage.
Key findings – 2018 CEI:
- 609 companies earned a perfect 100 points, up from 517 in the 2017 report.
- Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002.
- 459 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.
- 137 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.
The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria within five broad categories:
- Non-discrimination policies
- Employment benefits
- Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBTQ diversity and inclusion
- Public commitment to LGBTQ equality
- Responsible citizenship