New Report Shows Corporate America Competing to Be the Most Gay-Friendly

by Admin

Industry Trends Show Fierce Competition Benefits Ranging from Domestic Partner Health Plans to Transgender Protections

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today released a report showing that a record number of the largest U.S. companies are increasingly competing to expand benefits and protections for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers. This year's report, the Human Rights Campaign's fifth annual Corporate Equality Index, showed an unprecedented 138 major U.S. companies earned the top rating of 100 percent. That number is up from 101 in 2005, and has grown tenfold in four years.

"I am incredibly encouraged and optimistic about the findings in this report. Companies are not only working to improve their scores, they are actively competing to be ranked the most inclusive and fair-minded in their industry," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Leading companies, which years ago instituted basic equal employment policies, are accelerating their efforts to expand the range of benefits. This competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly becoming a place of fairness for GLBT Americans."

Indeed, this year's report found fierce competition within industries for the top rating, triggering quick actions to improve company policies and benefits at many companies. Using the CEI, companies can examine their scores in absolute terms, but also relative to their competitors. For example, last year Raytheon Co. was the only member of the aerospace industry to get a perfect score. This year, however, three of its competitors also earned 100 percent. Four other industries saw rapid growth in companies achieving the top score. A total of eight law firms, five pharmaceutical companies and five consulting houses all reached 100 percent for the first time in 2006. And, while in 2005 two major auto companies achieved the top rating, this year, that number doubled to four.

"CEOs are very much aware of their score and its impact on their business. They know that a top score means a healthier work environment, greater productivity and the ability to recruit top talent. They also know that a bad score will hurt their bottom line," Solmonese added.

In all of the policy and benefits areas that were measured, the report reveals double-digit increases in the number of companies adhering to the criteria. Among the companies surveyed in the new report, this year:

ᄡ75 percent more companies than in 2005 prohibited discrimination against transgender employees in employment practices

ᄡ64 percent more companies than in 2005 implemented at least one wellness benefit for transgender employees

ᄡ35 percent more companies than in 2005 extended COBRA, vision, dental and dependent medical coverage to employees' same-sex domestic partners and

ᄡ14 percent more companies than in 2005 engaged in philanthropic or marketing activities directed toward the GLBT community.

Almost all of the companies rated - 436, or 98 percent - include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination polices.

"Corporations are rapidly adopting a more complete vision of fairness for GLBT employees in policy and practice," said Daryl Herrschaft, director for HRC's Workplace Project and author of the report. "These findings reflect a common desire in organizations today to move at a heightened pace to implement fair and equal policies for GLBT employees and then work to publicize their achievements."

Three companies received a score of zero on the report. They are: oil giant ExxonMobil, grocery chain Meijer Inc. and high-tech consulting firm Perot Systems. None of these companies offer even the most minimal benefits or workplace protections to their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

The analysis released today covers 446 companies. The report includes surveys from Fortune 1000, Standard & Poor's 500, Forbes' list of the 200 largest privately held firms, the American Lawyer 100 and any other company with 500 or more employees that requested a rating or for which HRC had sufficient data to derive a score.

The Human Rights Campaign not only tracked the progress of companies, it was actively involved in improving corporate scores. For the past several years, the Human Rights Campaign Workplace Project has worked with hundreds of executives of small, medium and large businesses as well as with GLBT employees to provide on-site training on fair policies and provide pertinent cutting-edge research that helps businesses learn best practices, successful models and the positive results created by implementing these policies in their workplace.

The 2006 HRC Corporate Equality Index rated companies on a scale of 0 percent to 100 percent on several factors, including whether they have a written non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation support transgender employees with written non-discrimination policies and benefits offer inclusive health insurance, bereavement and family leave policies to employees with same-sex partners offer diversity training have GLBT employee groups engage in appropriate and respectful advertising to the GLBT community contribute to GLBT community organizations and decline to engage in any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

A copy of the report and all ratings can be found at www.hrc.org/cei.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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