The nation’s top companies and law firms are increasingly setting the standard for transgender inclusion in the workplace, according to a report issued today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.
A record 366 businesses earned the Corporate Equality Index’s top score of 100 percent this year. Those earning a perfect score include newcomers like Facebook and Yelp, as well as stalwarts such as Apple, Xerox, and other companies that have been leaders in LGBT equality in the workplace since the survey began in 2002.
“When it comes to LGBT equality, Corporate America is a leader, not a follower,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “At every turn, from advocating for marriage equality to providing vital support for transgender employees, this country’s leading companies have asked, ‘what more can we do?,’ and they’ve worked tirelessly to achieve new progress. That kind of leadership changes countless lives around this country, and sets an important example to other companies around the globe.”
Griffin cautions, however, that despite steady progress, LGBT workers still face major obstacles.
“Too many companies still don’t guarantee these vital workplace protections, and too many LGBT people–transgender people in particular–face high rates of unemployment and discrimination in hiring, keeping them from ever getting a foot in the door in the first place,” he said.
Through the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which measures LGBT workplace inclusion, HRC has successfully propelled important progress by implementing increasingly stringent criteria for companies to follow. Many companies have consistently met that challenge, and the commitment from America’s top companies and law firms to provide an equal and inclusive workplace for transgender employees is reflected in the results of this year’s survey:
• 418 companies participating in this year’s CEI now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage. That’s a 22 percent increase since 2012, when the CEI criteria first included trans-inclusive health care as a requisite for companies to receive a perfect score;
• One third of Fortune 500 companies now offer trans-inclusive health care, up from zero in 2002 when the CEI was first published;
• Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 66 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002;
• And more than 290 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.
Just as the CEI has successfully steered the country’s top corporations, law firms and their influential leaders toward breaking new ground in workplace equality — from enacting LGBT non-discrimination policies to extending same-sex partner benefits — it has also helped companies move toward full inclusion for their transgender employees.
“The results from this year’s Corporate Equality Index demonstrate that the nation’s leading companies see full LGBT inclusion as the standard for workplace equality,” said Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, in a statement. “As we celebrate these results, we should not lose sight of the work ahead needed to ensure that these policies and benefits support a true culture of inclusion for LGBT employees–from the hiring process to every aspect of their workday lives. The goal won’t be achieved until companies turn inclusive policies into everyday practice across their organizations.”
Progress is being felt far beyond the ranks of the Fortune 500. The purpose of the CEI, which this year had 781 companies actively participating, is also to encourage small- and medium-sized companies, as well as state and municipal governments, to increase workplace acceptance by extending similar inclusive benefits and protections to LGBT employees.
The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:
1. Non-discrimination policies
2. Employment benefits
3. Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
4. Public commitment to LGBT equality
5. Responsible citizenship
The full report is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.
Source: Human Rights Campaign