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Corporate Equality Index: Why the Criteria Change

The Corporate Equality Index serves as a road map to corporate diversity leaders to help them stay on top of the evolving field of policies and practices for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. The HRC Foundation is committed to staying ahead of the curve on LGBT diversity initiatives by incrementally raising the bar on the criteria that are factored into the Index and providing the tools for employers to meet them.

History of the Corporate Equality Index Criteria

In 2002, the first CEI rated employers strictly on seven criteria, which remain the basis for today’s criteria. The original criteria were guided in part by the Equality Principles, 10 touch points for businesses demonstrating their commitment to equal treatment of employees, consumers and investors, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  Just 13 businesses received perfect ratings in that first year; by 2005, more than 100 businesses had achieved perfect ratings, with many establishing the next best practices such as spousal-equivalent domestic partner benefits and comprehensive insurance coverage for transgender employees.

In 2004, the HRC Foundation rolled out the second and current version of the CEI criteria, with greater weight given to comprehensive domestic partner benefits and to transgender inclusion; these criteria went into effect in 2006 will remain in effect through 2010 (for the CEI 2011 report).

In 2009, the HRC Foundation rolled out the third version of the CEI critria, with comprehensive requirements for partner benefits, transgender-inclusive benefits, organizational competency on LGBT issues and external engagement with the LGBT community; these criteria went into effect in 2011 (for the CEI 2012 report).

Principles of the Corporate Equality Index Criteria

  • Rigorous and fair
    • incorporate current best and leading practices achievable by any employer that can participate (500 or more full-time U.S. employees)
    • recognize the diversity of U.S. employers (e.g.: consumer- vs. business-focused)
    • are implementable via existing templates, guidelines and other resources
    • focus purely on the current and future policies and practices the employer controls (e.g.: no public sector employers)
    • measure parity: require businesses to provide equal benefits to LGBT employees and their families rather than penalizing businesses thatif they do not offer certain benefits to any employees
  • Transparent, objective and comparable
    • are quantitatively measurable (i.e.: translate into an objective question on the CEI survey, which directly translate into the CEI criteria)
    • are limited to U.S. policies and practices
  • Consistent and reliable
    • are not a moving target (ratings can typically be compared from year to year), but new questions and practices are introduced (via CEI survey/report)
    • provide at least 12 months notice of any changes (criteria must be achieved when surveys are due – benefits changes may go into effect by open enrollment of the following year due to their annual nature)

Capturing Emerging Best Practices

The Corporate Equality Index survey has always included a number of indicators of LGBT workplace equality that are not included in the criteria; these are certainly items we might consider including in future criteria, but many are for simply for informational purposes as we gauge best practices among large employers.

Sources of Criteria Input