How Companies Respond When Missteps Occur
March 6, 2010
The following is from HRC Workplace Project Deputy Director Eric Bloem: Recently a major financial services firm came under fire for recommending closure of a bank account with the internet start-up Fabulis. As is our practice, we reached out to the company -- in this case, Citigroup, which scores 100 percent on the HRC Corporate Equality Index -- to better understand the circumstances of the decision. Citibank appropriately apologized and reinstated the account. Additionally, in a conversation with Citi's Bill Brown, the Senior Banker articulated the misstep made by the bank in this instance and informed HRC that the bank would modify their policy language to be more specific so that employees were better equipped to make the right decisions during the due diligence process. Further, the organization has modified its escalation process, ensuring that with these decisions, senior management is more involved. Despite the best efforts to train staff, hiccups occur in large companies. We're glad that in this case, Citi's thorough review of the situation led to an honest, public acknowledgment that there was room for improvement and that it has taken corrective action to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Citi stands apart from many of its fellow businesses in the length of time and intensity at which it has demonstrated support for the LGBT community. It has maintained a score of 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index for six consecutive years. In addition to the work they have done to make their own organization welcoming for LGBT employees, they have also demonstrated their commitment to the broader LGBT community. Citi is a founding member for the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, supporting passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The organization is also part of the Business Coalition for Benefit Tax Equity, working to eliminate the unfair tax on domestic partner benefits. Citi's external engagement with the LGBT community includes support for many LGBT organizations including GLSEN, NGLCC, Out & Equal, and the Human Rights Campaign. The true gauge of how seriously a company takes equality for its LGBT employees is not whether or not any missteps occur, but rather how the company responds if one does. In this case, Citi is a model for business support of equality.