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Equality Index rates businesses on LGBT policies
Four N.C.-based companies score 100 percent

by Wanda Pico . Contributing Writer

Owner Bob Page is committed to workplace fairness at Replacements Ltd.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released the sixth annual Corporate Equality Index and an unprecedented 195 major U.S. businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent, up from 138 last year, for a 41 percent increase. The Index rates employers on a scale from 0 to 100 percent on their treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors.

Ratings are based on factors like non-discrimination policies, diversity training and benefits for domestic partners and transgender employees. The 195 businesses that met all of the criteria employ more than 8.3 million workers. When the Index was first released in 2002 only 13 companies, employing 690,000 workers, received the top rating.

“More businesses than ever before have recognized the value of a diverse and dedicated workforce,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese. “More importantly, these employers understand that discrimination against GLBT workers will ultimately hurt their ability to compete in the global marketplace.”

Four businesses in the Carolinas — all headquartered in the Tarheel State — achieved a perfect rating. They are gay-owned firms Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, of Taylorsville; Replacements Ltd., located in McLeansville; and Charlotte-based banking giants Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. All four received top marks in last year’s Index, as well.
One of the 57 companies achieving a perfect score for the first time is internet portal Yahoo!.
“Yahoo! is proud to be part of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and to be in the company of a pioneering group that has stepped up to create a more inclusive work environment for today’s diverse employee groups,” said Cammie Dunaway, chief marketing officer and executive sponsor of the LGBT employee group at Yahoo!.

Today, at least 282 cities and towns and 19 states have added workplace protections that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in both public and private sector jobs. More than 93 local municipalities and 11 states have laws that include protections based on gender identity.

The Corporate Equality Index rated 519 businesses this year. Among the findings:

• The banking and financial services industry has 32 companies with 100 percent, more than any other industry. There are 30 law firms with the top rating, up from 12 last year.

• Three sectors saw their first company achieve a top rating:

• In mail and freight delivery, United Parcel Service (UPS) achieved 100 percent. In contrast, FedEx received a 55 and does not provide benefits for domestic partners firm-wide, including to married same-sex couples in Massachusetts.

• In the transportation and travel services industry, Travelport, known for its travel sites such as Orbitz.com, is the first to receive a perfect score.

• Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. is the first gaming industry company to achieve 100 percent.

• For the first time, a majority of rated firms — 58 percent — provide employment protections on the basis of gender identity.

• Companies that have newly achieved a perfect score of 100 percent include: Allstate Insurance Co., Electronic Arts Inc., Esurance Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc., KeyCorp, Macy’s Inc.,
Marriott International Inc., Mastercard Inc., Waste Management Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.

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