07/12/2016 17:42 GMT | Updated 20/02/2017 08:44 GMT

Record Number Of Top US Businesses Embracing Inclusive Policies for LGBTQ Workers

More than 90% of businesses surveyed by the Human Rights Campaign have embraced sexual orientation and gender identity employment protections for their U.S. and global operations.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
A rainbow flag is held aloft as the Pride in London parade makes its way through the streets of central, London.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released their findings for the 2017 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) yesterday. The HRC is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights in the United States and works to create spaces where "LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community". According to the HRC, this year 98% of CEI-rated companies offer "both sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections to workers domestically and internationally."

In 2015, the HRC Foundation launched the Global Business Coalition - an initiative geared towards the advancement of LGBTQ workplace equality around the world. The coalition is made up of 36 companies and represents more than 3.5 million LGBTQ in over 200 countries around the world. Every year, the HRC surveys major businesses in the United States as part of the Corporate Equality Index to "assess LGBT-inclusive policies and practices at Fortune 500 companies". Launched in 2002, the CEI serves as a benchmark for the role that corporates play in working towards workplace equality for LGTBQ employees. According to the 2017 CEI report, "the number of employers rated from the first CEI to the present has expanded from 319 to 887, encompassing all major industry sectors and geographic regions of the U.S."

The CEI rates and scores companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories, with a perfect score of 100:

  • Non-discrimination policies
  • Employment benefits
  • Demonstrated organisational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
  • Public commitment to LGBT equality
  • Responsible citizenship

"Businesses that achieve a rating of 100% in this report are recognised as 'Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality' and are welcome to use this distinction in their recruitment and marketing efforts," says the CEI report.

"In this 15th edition of the Corporate Equality Index we have seen the largest increase in top-rated businesses in the history of our survey with 517 employers earning perfect 100% scores. In addition, this year saw the CEI's largest jump ever in businesses offering transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage — from 511 last year to 647 this year," Chad Griffin, President of HRC said in a statement. "These businesses know that LGBTQ equality isn't just the right thing to do, it makes them stronger in our global economy. Ensuring fairness in the workplace is a value and increasingly a policy norm, and not just in the U.S. Now, more than 90 percent of CEI-rated businesses have embraced both sexual orientation and gender identity employment protections for their U.S. and global operations."

Beyond its economic and corporate social impact, the results of the CEI also further affirm the role of LGBTQ employees in fostering personal growth within the corporate structure. "With every policy change and discussion of transgender-inclusive benefits, for example, an employee saw a path to bringing their full self to work, an executive could put a human face to the need for full equality and an ally could proudly display a show of support for their LGBTQ colleagues and friends," says Griffin.

According to the report, the most significant progress in the CEI, year-on-year, has been the "wide-scale adoption of transgender inclusive initiatives across businesses."

Some of the top names in various business categories, from advertising to telecommunications and retail included the Ogilvy Group, Adidas, Visa, Coca-Cola and Uber.