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2019 Corporate Equality Index Letter

Dear CEI Participants,

On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, we want to thank you for your commitment to LGBTQ equality, and for your engagement with the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

As you begin the CEI 2019 survey, we’d like to reiterate the newly scored components in this year’s survey that we announced two years ago and have been working in partnership ever since to prepare for your success:

1. parity between spousal and partner benefits;
2. the removal of transgender exclusions from all health care plans; and,
3. supplier diversity programs being inclusive of LGBTQ owners.

In terms of the continued need for parity between spousal and partner benefits, LGBTQ people still face deep inequalities across the nation despite historic progress such as the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Today, there are no clear, consistent federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity -- and 30 states still lack these protections. Until we pass the Equality Act, far too many workers face real risks, even when they exercise their right to marry.

The current patchwork of legal protections means that LGBTQ Americans can legally marry one day, but the next day be denied services for who they are, or risk being fired for displaying their wedding photos in the office. Requiring employees to get married in order to receive benefits for their dependents has the unintended consequence of requiring a public marriage license that identifies an individual or their spouse as LGBTQ, thereby exposing couples and families to vulnerabilities in their homes, communities and workplaces.

Transgender employees and dependents continue to lack access to comprehensive health care coverage due to discriminatory insurance plan exclusions. We know you share our sense of urgency when it comes to addressing this crucial issue. In fact, the private sector has been leading the way on transgender inclusive healthcare for more than a decade. Now, the private sector can help close the gap even more -- by ending anti-transgender exclusions in all health care plans.

At HRC we have experts on staff with relationships across the health insurance industry. They can offer guidance in the removal of these unnecessary and discriminatory clauses, primarily holdovers from an era of stigmatization and bias. These are largely administrative fixes for most major plans -- yet have real consequences for the individuals who depend upon their removal.  We appreciate your work over the years to adapt to new criteria - together we are making real progress for diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQ community.

Beyond the new criteria, this year’s survey will also include new questions designed to help us learn how you approach two critical issues for our community:

1. navigating business decisions in U.S. cities and states with anti-LGBTQ policies and
2. addressing challenges accessing HIV prevention and treatment. 

These are not questions to be scored at this time; we are gathering information to better understand current policy and practice.

First, many of you have already sought our expertise and assistance as you navigate states with a patchwork of laws. We are eager to learn better what tools you’re using to make business decisions around site selections -- where to locate new operations, where to ask top-performing LGBTQ employees to relocate, where to host conferences and events, and how to gauge LGBTQ protections in cities and states to ensure your employees’ safety and security.  With high profile battles about regressive state laws, many companies have voiced concerns and are being more proactive about researching municipal and state protections (or discrimination) as they make choices about where to expand, where to host events, etc.
Second, the HIV and AIDS epidemic continues to ravage our community -- despite significant prevention and treatment innovations that can end the epidemic once and for all. We want to understand your current policies and practices around providing employees access to today’s recommended HIV prevention and treatment options.  The private sector has advanced remarkable progress for transgender inclusive health care by prioritizing the health and well-being of all employees - prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS is re-emerging as a top priority for many LGBTQ employees and job-seekers.

Over the years, the CEI has asked information-gathering questions like these and your answers have helped enormously as we develop new tools, resources and approaches to advancing LGBTQ corporate equality. From the beginning, our respondents have helped forge a path of inclusion.

We look forward to our continued partnership this year. As always, the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program team members are committed to working closely with you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at cei@hrc.org.

Thank you again for your commitment and dedication to creating an equal playing field for LGBTQ people.

 

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Maxwell

Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training

Human Rights Campaign Foundation

 

Deena Fidas

Director, Workplace Equality Program

Human Rights Campaign Foundation