Healthcare Equality Index: Employment Non-Discrimination

The Core Four Leader Criteria in HRC’s national Healthcare Equality Index represent policies and practices that are considered foundational to LGBT patient-centered care. For this reason, each HEI participant that meets the Core Four criteria is awarded the designation “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality.”

To meet the third of the Core Four criteria, healthcare organizations must implement and document an employment non-discrimination policy that explicitly protects LGBT people by including the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Including the Terms “Sexual Orientation” & “Gender Identity” in Policy

As The Joint Commission LGBT Field Guide notes, a healthcare organization’s LGBT employees play a vital role in ensuring LGBT patient-centered care by providing information to their co-workers about patient concerns, offering feedback about policies and practices, and conveying to the local community the organization’s commitment to equity and inclusion. An employment non-discrimination policy that explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity ensures equal treatment for LGBT employees and also sends a welcoming message to LGBT job applicants, helping the organization retain and recruit diverse, talented staff.

Including the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in an employment non-discrimination policy underlines an employer’s dedication to workplace equity. In some cases, inclusion of these terms reflects state law, indicating that the organization is aware of and committed to legal requirements of non-discrimination. In areas without a state law prohibiting LGBT discrimination, adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a non-discrimination policy affirms an employer’s commitment to workplace equity and inclusion. Explicit statements that healthcare organizations are committed to LGBT non-discrimination are deeply appreciated by LGBT members of the community and provide important guidance to employees.

It has become common for employers’ non-discrimination statements to include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” For example, 57% of the country’s Fortune 500 employers have explicitly LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.

Explicit prohibition of LGBT employment discrimination is foundational to LGBT patient-centered care. But as The Joint Commission LGBT Field Guide notes, it is important to review other employment policies and benefits to ensure that LGBT staff are treated equitably. Part E of the HEI’s Additional Best Practices section explains how to conduct this review.

For more information about LGBT employees’ workplace concerns and how to address them, healthcare organizations are encouraged to read the HRC Degrees of Equality report. In addition, healthcare organizations with 500+ employees may well want to participate in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, which offers a wealth of suggestions for workplace equality.