Each year the Human Rights Campaign releases two interconnected lists that rate the quality of LGBT inclusion within the workplace. The broader list, called the “Corporate Equality Index,” includes the scores of the largest 1,000 U.S. corporations. The scores range from Exxon Mobile’s abysmal zero to perfect 100’s for 195 businesses.
The second report, “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality,” refocuses the attention on those employers who score perfectly, and is released as a separate publication to honor those organizations that have achieved LGBT parity. Trevor Thomas, deputy director of communication for HRC, told Q-Notes, “We put our ‘Best Places to Work’ report out at the same time that Forbe’s releases its list, so that there is a pressure for companies to be listed in both resources.”
According to HRC’s website, “A total of 195 companies that achieve this honor will use the 2008 ‘Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality’ seal to distinguish their company as a fair-minded employer. The seal is given to companies who score a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which measures policies and practices implemented to promote fairness and equality in the workplace for GLBT employees.”
“We honor the companies awarded for being the ‘Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Each of these companies is working hard to transform their workplaces and make them safer for millions of employees around the country. We can now say that at least 10 million employees are protected on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on the job.
“The 2008 ‘Corporate Equality Index’ report awarded an unprecedented 195 major U.S. businesses the top rating of 100 percent, up from 138 last year — a 41 percent increase. One of the Index’s major findings was that a majority of rated employers now offer workplace protections on the basis of gender identity — 58 percent. That number has increased from just 29 percent in 2005.”
The four Carolinas businesses to score perfect 100 ratings on the “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality” are Bank of America (Charlotte); Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (Taylorsville); Replacements, Ltd. (Greensboro) and Wachovia (Charlotte).
In order to receive a perfect score, businesses had to offer the following: a written non-discrimination policy and diversity training seminar addressing lesbian, gay and bisexual employees specifically; a separate, written non-discrimination policy and diversity training seminar addressing transgender employees specifically; a package of domestic partner benefits including health insurance, COBRA, dental, vision and legal dependent coverage and at least three other “soft” benefits (bereavement leave, relocation assistance for partners, adoption assistance, etc.); an LGBT employee resource group or diversity council; and a strategy for implementing respectful advertising and marketing campaigns and/or sponsorship of LGBT events or organizations. In addition to all this the companies had to refrain from actions that would undermine LGBT equality.
Because there are no Fortune 1000 companies with headquarters in South Carolina, the state was automatically shut out from the listings. Greenville, S.C., is the North American headquarters for Michelin, a French corporation. Michelin has policies in place that prohibit discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals; however, it does not have a separate policy for transgender inclusion. Because of this, the highest it could score on the HRC survey would be 80.