Six Carolina companies make ‘Best Places’ list

HRC ranks 13 Carolinas companies for inclusiveness

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of Carolinas companies ranked for inclusiveness and diversity by the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization grew this year. The Human Rights Campaign surveyed 13 Carolinas businesses for inclusion in its 2010 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), including three new businesses not previously listed in the organization’s annual business climate reports.

Six of the ranked companies have also been named among over 300 others across the nation in HRC’s “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Each company designated a “Best Place” has scored a perfect 100 rating on the CEI. In 2009, only five North Carolina companies received the honor.

“Best Places” corporations in North Carolina included Bank of America (Charlotte), Food Lion (Salisbury) and GlaxoSmithKline (Research Triangle Park), as well as the gay-owned Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams (Taylorsville) and Replacements, Ltd. (Greensboro). South Carolina had no “Best Places” corporations.

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This year marks the first time GlaxoSmithKline has been ranked by HRC and its first time with a 100 score. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Columbia law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP was also ranked for the first time. Food Lion moved up from a 2009 score of 95 to its perfect 100. In addition, the San Francisco, Calif-based Wells Fargo, which now owns and operates the Charlotte-based Wachovia, received a 100 score. (Before their merger with Wells Fargo, Wachovia had been the recipient of a 100 rating.)

Reynolds American, Inc., the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, saw a drop in their perfect 2009 rating to a score of 88 this year. Their 100 rating last year prompted criticism from openly gay researcher Joseph Lee, a social research specialist in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Department of Family Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program.

As reported in a March 2, 2009 qnotes cover story, Lee argued Reynolds’ perfect 100 rating with HRC was inappropriate due to Reynolds’ past marketing focus on LGBT consumers and the disproportionately high use of tobacco among LGBT Americans.

Daryl Herrschaft, director of the HRC Foundation Workplace Project, told qnotes then the CEI scores weren’t meant to reflect anything other than a company’s treatment of LGBT employees.

Reynolds American’s lack of transgender-inclusive insurance coverage and an LGBT employee resource group accounted for the company’s ratings drop this year.

Seven other Carolinas companies were ranked in HRC’s 2010 CEI but did not receive perfect scores. Those companies and their 2010 scores are listed below, along with their previous year’s scores and reasons of their point losses:

BB&T Corp.

Winston-Salem
2010 score: 73. 2009 score: 48.

Does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Does not provide diversity training covering gender identity nor does it have supportive gender transition guidelines.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

Durham
2010 score: 90. 2009 score: Not listed.

Does not provide diversity training covering gender identity nor does it have supportive gender transition guidelines. Does not offer dental, vision, COBRA and dependent coverage benefits for domestic partners.

Compass Group USA

Charlotte
2010 score: 50. 2009 score: 65.

Does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Does not offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage. Does not have LGBT employee resource group nor firm-wide diversity council. Has not exhibited positive engagement with external LGBT community.

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Duke Energy Corp.

Charlotte
2010 score: 80. 2009 score: 75.

Does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Does not offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Columbia
2010 score: 70. 2009 score: Not listed.

Does not provide diversity training covering sexual orientation. Does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Does not provide diversity training covering gender identity nor does it have supportive gender transition guidelines. Does not offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

Progress Energy, Inc.

Raleigh
2010 score: 68. 2009 score: 68.

Does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Does not provide diversity training covering gender identity nor does it have supportive gender transition guidelines. Does not offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage. Does not have LGBT employee resource group nor firm-wide diversity council.

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC

Winston-Salem
2010 score: 65. 2009 score: 65.

Does not provide diversity training covering sexual orientation. Does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Does not provide diversity training covering gender identity or expression. Does not offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage. Does not offer dental, vision, COBRA and dependent coverage benefits for domestic partners. : :

info: hrc.org/placestowork . hrc.org/cei

This article was published in the Feb. 6 – Feb. 19 print edition.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.