Historic year for Corporate America’s leadership in fight for LGBT equality
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, will honor 304 major U.S. employers as its 2014 ‘Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” at the 12th Annual LGBT Workplace Awards Reception tonight. This celebration will be hosted by Time Warner at the Time Warner Center in New York City. CNN’s Nischelle Turner will emcee the event and interview HRC President Chad Griffin in front of the live audience.
The list of top rated businesses has grown exponentially from 13 to over 300 since the report’s first launch in 2002. For twelve years, HRC has been working with Corporate America to maintain and establish best practice for LGBT inclusion, and this gathering of over 240 executives from top Fortune-ranked business, leading law firms, and other major employers reflects the absolute best in corporate leadership on LGBT equality. These are businesses that haven’t been waiting for legal mandates, but rather have extended equitable health insurance benefits to LGBT employees and their families, establishing a the new standard of truly inclusive employer-provided benefits, adding transgender inclusive health care coverage. This elite group of companies spans all industries, from manufacturing to banking, as well as all geographies.
“The level of broad corporate leadership on LGBT issues is at an historic high. Our corporate champions have already done so much to create greater equality in their own offices, stores and plants. More and more, they are one of the loudest voices in calling for full legal LGBT equality in the public debates happening around this country,” said Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Workplace Equality Program. “This kind of corporate leadership means that tomorrow’s LGBT and allied employees and consumers – today’s youth – will be entering a very different workplace than they were just a decade ago. Being able to bring their full selves to work from the get-go won’t only be a win for them, but it’ll be a win for the bottom line.”
The event will also feature AT&T’s Jim Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, and Cigna’s Rosanna Durruthy, Chief Diversity Officer, who will both speak to their own company’s leadership on LGBT issues. AT&T was a prominent voice in calling for the veto of Arizona’s SB 1062, the bill that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on religious grounds. Cigna has been a leader in, among other efforts, supporting the greater access and knowledge of transgender healthcare coverage. Both companies have devoted significant resources to supporting LGBT youth initiatives such as HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference. The evening will be capped off by Tamara Williams, a youth activist from New York City who has worked with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, who will address entering the workforce as a transgender young adult.
Companies receiving the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” distinction scored 100 percent on the HRC Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, the national survey of Corporate America’s treatment of LGBT workers. The CEI considers non-discrimination policies, equitable benefits, diversity training and other internal resources for LGBT workers, as well as external support for LGBT consumers and job seekers. The 2014 Corporate Equality Index report is available at www.hrc.org/cei.
Tonight’s attendees will also take part in a forum to prepare for next year’s 2016 CEI that will again raise the bar of true LGBT inclusive best practices.
For a 100 percent in the 2016 Corporate Equality Index report, businesses must additionally:
Have sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections explicitly included in all of its operations, both within the US and global operations.
Require US contractors to abide by companies’ existing inclusive non-discrimination policy.
Implement internal requirements prohibiting company/ law firm philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/ or gender identity.
“Our CEI has been a powerful tool in helping corporate America move forward on equality,” added Fidas. “Many of our 100 percent companies are already meeting these requirements, and we are working with our other leaders to keep their businesses moving forward.”
While today’s honors demonstrate that corporate America continues to lead the way on the issue of workplace equality, too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers remain at risk of losing their jobs and their livelihoods because there is no nationwide protection against employment discrimination. HRC is urging Congress to remedy this inequality by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), common-sense legislation that would ensure American workers are judged on the merits, rather than irrelevant characteristics like sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign 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.