WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)– The Human Rights Campaign Foundation today released the seventh annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates 583 businesses on a scale from 0 to 100 percent on their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. The 2009 edition of the CEI reports 259 businesses achieved a perfect score, a one-third increase over last year when the number was 195. The 259 top-rated businesses collectively employ more than 9 million full-time employees. These workers are protected from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression because of their employers’ policies on diversity & inclusion, training, health care, and domestic partnership benefits.
“The 2009 Corporate Equality Index shows that corporate America understands that a diverse workforce is critical to remaining successful and competitive,” said HRC Foundation President Joe Solmonese. “In the absence of a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, it is up to employers to take the lead and implement policies that ensure all their employees are protected.”
“We are very pleased to receive a perfect score on HRC’s 2009 Corporate Equality Index. Our score reflects our support of the GLBT community and the inclusiveness of our workplace,” said R. Kerry Clark, Chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health. “Diversity and inclusion are important aspects of our core values at Cardinal Health and critical to unleashing the power of our people in order to create value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”
“Shell is pleased to have achieved a perfect score on the CEI-rating. This was a priority for us because it further demonstrates our commitment to inclusiveness in the workplace,” said Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Company. “A 100-percent rating helps us to better attract, recruit and retain diverse talent to contribute to our overall business success.”
Transgender workers have made major gains since the Corporate Equality Index was first published in 2002. That year, just 5 percent of rated businesses provided employment protections based on gender identity or expression. The 2009 Corporate Equality Index reports that figure has increased twelve-fold: 66 percent of rated businesses now prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression, a 28 percent increase over last year.
“Improving and establishing an equal workplace for a transgender person is essential for any company that wishes to attract, recruit and retain talented employees,” said Meghan Stabler, HRC Business Council member and transgender activist. “Often we are singled out for discrimination and, very often, job termination, solely because of our gender change or gender expression regardless of work history. The significant increase in companies achieving 100 percent on the CEI shows that the business-employee climate is improving, but we know there is still significant progress to be made.”
Since 2006, CEI participants have been asked to ensure that at least one of five types of medically necessary treatment was available to transgender employees without exclusion. For the first time this year, the CEI contains a more detailed review of documentation that businesses submitted in order to determine whether a broader range of medically necessary treatments would be covered by an insurance plan. In the section entitled “Ending Benefits Discrimination against Transgender Employees,” the HRC Foundation found that 49 businesses have taken significant and substantial steps to remove discrimination from at least one of their health insurance plans. These businesses are highlighted in the report’s appendices.
“The Corporate Equality Index has helped spotlight these health insurance exclusions for transgender employees and we have seen tremendous progress being made in removing them,” said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project. “Our goal now is to continue to work with plan sponsors and insurers to develop model policies.”
Other major findings in the 2009 Corporate Equality Index include:
Of the 255 Fortune 500 companies rated in the CEI, 120 received perfect scores. The average rating of Fortune 500 companies was 83 percent.
In 2006, the first year law firms were invited to participate in the CEI, 13 achieved a score of 100 percent. That figure has leapt to 64 in the latest edition, eclipsing banking and financial services firms.
Ninety-nine percent of CEI-rated employers offer employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation.
The report is available at: www.hrc.org/cei
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.