Number of Top Rated Businesses for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Workers Jumps Despite Toug

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Release of Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index begins two-week "Policy to Practice" conversation around equality in the workplace

WASHINGTON, D.C. -The number of businesses with perfect ratings based on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace policies and benefits rose by twenty percent in the past twelve months - despite the serious economic downturn - according to a new report released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. The 2010 edition of the Corporate Equality Index, which rates 590 businesses on a scale from 0 to 100 percent, reports 305 businesses achieved top ratings, compared to 260 last year. To view the report visit: www.HRC.org/CEI

Today's release kicks-off the start of a two-week conversation around workplace equality for the LGBT community. "Policy to Practice" is a series of extended conversations designed to not only provide information regarding policies and benefits among some of the country's largest employers, but to also spur dialogue around how those policies are implemented. In addition to today's release of the CEI 2010 that benchmarks individual businesses, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will also release the "Degrees of Equality" report that aims to understand and bridge the gap between policy and real-life experiences of LGBT employees. At the same time, some of the country's leading business professionals and workplace diversity and inclusion experts will blog at www.HRCBackstory.org.

"The Corporate Equality Index 2010 shows that, even in the most challenging economy, leading employers are forging ahead of federal and state law to recruit and retain a diverse workforce - regardless of employees' sexual orientation and gender identity or expression," said Human Rights Campaign Foundation President Joe Solmonese. "While Congress considers a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, businesses can take immediate steps to ensure all employees in their workforce are treated fairly today. These 305 businesses, and all employers actively working to improve their rating, set an example for all U.S. employers, including the federal government."

The 305 top-rated businesses collectively employ more than 9 million full-time employees. These workers are protected from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression because of their employers' policies on diversity & inclusion, training and benefits. Federal law does not protect employees from discrimination based on real or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation, although many cities, counties and states have such protections. Similarly, employer-based health insurance benefits typically don't cover LGBT workers and their families. Statements from executives at businesses with 100 percent ratings are available at www.HRC.org/CEIstatements.

The Corporate Equality Index 2010 report shows impressive gains in policies and protections across the board. In particular, transgender workers have made major gains since the report was first published in 2002, when just 5 percent of rated businesses prohibited discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The Corporate Equality Index 2010 reports that figure has increased exponentially: 72 percent of rated businesses now prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Other major findings in the Corporate Equality Index 2010 include:

"The Corporate Equality Index has provided a roadmap for employers to address their policies, benefits and other practices broadly since 2002," said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the HRC Foundation's Workplace Project. "The new criteria we announced earlier this year define even better practices. We look forward to working with employers to implement these new best practices over the coming years."

More information on the new criteria is available at www.hrc.org/NewCEI.

The Corporate Equality Index 2010 report is available at www.hrc.org/cei.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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