Metro Weekly

571 companies earn perfect score on HRC’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index

Major corporations earn praise and recognition for their LGBTQ-friendly policies

Hilton Inc. headquarters – Photo: Altercari, via Wikimedia.

When it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, corporate America has largely gotten on board, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

571 of America’s leading companies earned a perfect score on HRC’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies on their commitment to LGBTQ inclusion, including their nondiscrimination policies, whether they offer spousal or domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, whether their health care plan covers transition-related care for transgender people, their commitment to LGBTQ inclusion as part of a diverse supplier chain, and how they have publicly demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community.

Notably, the benchmarks for receiving a perfect score have been raised compared to previous years, underscoring how impressive it is for a major corporation to prove their commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and equality in the workplace.

For instance, in order to receive a top score, a company must eliminate all exclusions on medically necessary care for transgender people as part of its employee health care plan. It must also offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and require that their supplier diversity programs explicitly include LGBTQ-owned suppliers.

Findings from the HRC report show that 93% of Fortune 500 companies have LGB-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, and 85% have policies prohibiting hiring discrimination based on a person’s gender identity. And nearly two-thirds offer inclusive health benefits for transgender employees. This year, 193 Fortune 500 companies earned perfect scores on the index, compared to 230 last year.

Among all CEI participants, 99% offer LGB-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, and 97% have trans-inclusive nondiscrimination policies. A robust 84% of participating companies offer trans-inclusive health benefits, 16 times as many businesses that offer such benefits as did a decade ago. 

On the public commitment front, more than 170 top businesses — including 110 that earned perfect scores on the CEI — have come out in support of the Equality Act, a piece of legislation working its way through Congress that would add comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals to the nation’s civil rights laws. 

“The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Many of these companies have also become vocal advocates for equality in the public square, including the dozens that have signed on to amicus briefs in vital Supreme Court cases and the more than 170 that have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act.

Time and again, leading American businesses have shown that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business,” Griffin added.

Several local D.C.-area employers who obtained perfect scores on the CEI include: Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, Arent Fox LLP, Buckley LLP, The Carlyle Group, Covington & Burling LLP, Crowell & Moring LLP, Danaher Corp., Denton US LLP, EAB, mortgage giant Fannie Mae, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP, white-shoe law firm Steptoe & Johnson, Vox Media, Wiley Rein LLP, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. 

In Virginia, top scorers included the Herndon-based Airbus Americas Inc., McLean-based technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One Financial Corp., CarMax Inc., mortgage giant Freddie Mac, publishing giant Gannett Co. Inc., hospitality company Hilton Inc., defense contractor Northrop Grumman Inc., the Reston-based Rolls Royce North America Holdings Co., Science Applications International Corp., digital media company TEGNA Inc., and insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson.

In Maryland, top scorers were: Rockville-based Choice Hotels International, Baltimore-based international law firm DLA Piper, the Landover-based Giant of Maryland, Baltimore-based investment firm Legg Mason Inc., Bethesda-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda-based Marriott International Inc., Gaithersburg-based food service management company Sodexo Inc., Baltimore-based investment firm T. Rowe Price Associates, clothes manufacturer Under Armour Inc., and the Chevy Chase-based WeddingWire Inc.

Notably, Google Inc. participated in the CEI, but had its perfect score of 100 suspended after it refused to remove an app from its Play Store that advocated conversion therapy. Noting that conversion therapy has been rejected as ineffective by most mainstream medical and mental health organizations, HRC said Google’s score would remain suspended as long as the Living Hope Ministries app remained available on the Play Store.

The controversial app sparked a Change.org petition, signed by more than 142,000 individuals, calling on Google to remove the app. Many of the petition signers worried that by making the app widely accessible to LGBTQ youth, it would make them targets of therapists who could subject them to physically, mentally, or emotionally harmful tactics in an attempt to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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