A record number of the nation’s major companies and law firms are advancing vital policies and practices to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workers around the world, according to the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) released today by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
This year, a record-breaking 609 businesses earned the CEI’s top score of 100, up from 517 last year — a single-year increase of 18 percent. This record sets a new high water mark for corporate leadership over the 16-year history of the CEI.
The CEI underscores the historic support for LGBTQ equality among the nation’s top employers as sustained attacks by the Trump-Pence Administration on LGBTQ people continue. Over the last ten months, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have engaged in a systematic dismantling of Obama-era protections for LGBTQ people and undertaken new lines of attacks, including their effort to ban transgender troops and a “license to discriminate” order that enables the government to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens in myriad ways. LGBTQ workers have also been under seige by the Trump-Pence Administration: just last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration will not enforce nondiscrimination protections for transgender workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“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 HRC President Chad Griffin. “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.”
The LGBTQ community is not explicitly protected by federal non-discrimination law — but these companies are bridging that 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. 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.
The CEI, launched in 2002 to assess LGBTQ-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 and attacks from our nation’s highest offices, business leaders are building on their longstanding commitment to expanding workplace equality for LGBTQ people. In Texas, 70 businesses, along with several Texas Chambers of Commerce, signed a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Joe Straus and other lawmakers, voicing their opposition to Texas’ SB 6, an anti-transgender bill similar to North Carolina’s HB2 law. The bill did not pass.
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 83 percent. And even as the Affordable Care Act has come under attack by lawmakers, trans-inclusive health care coverage has become a business norm. 79 percent of companies participating in this year’s CEI now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage. 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.
Key national findings revealed in the 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 falling under 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
The full report, including a searchable employer database is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.