Corporate Equality Index Criteria

Launched in 2002, the HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index has become a roadmap and benchmarking tool for U.S. businesses in the evolving field of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the workplace. The HRC Foundation is committed to keeping the criteria for the CEI rigorous, fair and transparent by identifying emerging best practices that improve the experiences of LGBT employees of participating businesses. Equally important, we are committed to providing the resources and consultation that enable each business to attain a 100 percent rating.

These pages explain the newest, third iteration of the criteria for the CEI as well as the resources the HRC Foundation currently provides or is developing to support participating businesses' efforts to meet the new criteria. The new criteria went into effect for the 2012 Corporate Equality Index Survey and Report issued in calendar year 2011, and applies for this year's 2014 CEI.

The CEI criteria apply to business operations throughout the United States, including wholly-owned subsidiaries. Most businesses are rated based on their responses to the CEI survey which must be accurate to the best of the employer's ability, requiring education and understanding by benefits, human resources, legal and other professionals. Supporting documentation is required for certain criteria, but only the first time an employer seeks credit for these criteria and not in subsequent surveys. However, HRC may request additional information or documentation at any time to clarify potential discrepancies with survey answers.

Rating Criteria for the 2015 CEI

  1. Equal employment opportunity policy includes:
    1. Sexual orientation (15)
    2. Gender identity or expression (15)
  2. Employment benefits (35)  

    To secure full credit for benefits criteria, each benefit must be available to all benefits-eligible U.S. employees. In areas where more than one health insurance plan is available, at least one inclusive plan must be available.

    1. Equivalent spousal and partner medical benefits (15) (more info)
    2. Includes parity between employees with different-sex spouses and same-sex partners or spouses in the provision of the following benefits: COBRA; dental; vision; legal dependent coverage; bereavement leave; employer-provided supplemental life insurance for a partner; relocation/travel assistance; adoption assistance; qualified joint and survivor annuity for partners; qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity for partners; retiree healthcare benefits; and employee discounts (10)
    3. Equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care (10) (more info)
  3. Organizational LGBT competency (20)
    1. Competency training, resources or accountability measures (10)
      Businesses must demonstrate a firm-wide, sustained and accountable commitment to diversity and cultural competency, including at least three of the following elements:
      • New hire training clearly states that the nondiscrimination policy includes gender identity and sexual orientation and provides definitions or scenarios illustrating the policy for each
      • Supervisors undergo training that includes gender identity and sexual orientation as discrete topics (may be part of a broader training), and provides definitions or scenarios illustrating the policy for each
      • Integration of gender identity and sexual orientation in professional development, skills-based or other leadership training that includes elements of diversity and/or cultural competency
      • Gender transition guidelines with supportive restroom, dress code and documentation guidance
      • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys conducted on an annual or biennial basis allow employees the option to identify as LGBT.
      • Data collection forms that include employee race, ethnicity, gender, military and disability status — typically recorded as part of employee records — include optional questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.
      • Senior management/executive performance measures include LGBT diversity metrics
    2. Employee Group –OR– Diversity Council (10)
  4. Public Engagement (15) 
    Businesses must demonstrate ongoing LGBT-specific engagement that extends across the firm, including at least three of the following:
    • LGBT employee recruitment efforts with demonstrated reach of LGBT applicants (required documentation may include a short summary of the event or an estimation of the number of candidates reached)
    • Supplier diversity program with demonstrated effort to include certified LGBT suppliers
    • Marketing or advertising to LGBT consumers (e.g.: advertising with LGBT content, advertising in LGBT media or sponsoring LGBT organizations and events)
    • Philanthropic support of at least one LGBT organization or event (e.g.: financial, in kind or pro bono support)
    • Demonstrated public support for LGBT equality under the law through local, state or federal legislation or initiatives 
  5. Responsible citizenship (-25)
    Employers will have 25 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records. Scores on this criterion are based on information that has come to HRC’s attention related to topics including but not limited to: undue influence by a significant shareholder calculated to undermine a business’s employment policies or practices related to its LGBT employees; directing corporate charitable contributions to organizations whose primary mission includes advocacy against LGBT equality; opposing shareholder resolutions reasonably aimed at encouraging the adoption of inclusive workplace policies; revoking inclusive LGBT policies or practices; or engaging in proven practices that are contrary to the business’s written LGBT employment policies.

Point Allocations

Businesses are rated on a scale from 0 to 100, with a certain number of points awarded for meeting each criterion. The HRC Foundation will continue to award partial credit to employers that have satisfied a portion of certain criterion.

Key Dates

Following the typical CEI schedule, the following timeline is expected to apply. With the exception of benefits deadlines, all dates are subject to modification:


  • March: 2014 CEI Survey released to participants (includes clearly marked questions that will count toward the 2014 CEI score).
  • August 1: Deadline for 2014 CEI survey submissions
  • August/September: 2014 CEI scores finalized
  • October/November: 2014 CEI Report released to the public
  • November: 2014 Buying for Workplace Equality Guide and iPhone App released to the public


  • All benefits changes must be effective by the 2014 enrollment period for credit in the 2014 CEI report.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Corporate Equality Index
About Transgender-Inclusive Health Insurance
About Domestic Partner Benefits