The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its 2013 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) recently. The CEI looks at the policies and programs companies have in place to protect and include LGBT employees. Eleven years ago there were almost no laws protecting LGBT employees from sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. HRC felt the need to survey the employment situation for LGBT individuals so they, and everyone else, would know which corporations were protecting their employees, what policies or programs were working, and which corporations could use some improvement. The list provides businesses with benchmarks for LGBT inclusion. It is also useful for those who wish to promote equality in the workplace by directing individuals to inclusive employers and consumers to companies that share their views. Those companies that receive a perfect rating are recognized as “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” for the given year and are allowed to use that distinction in their promotional materials. In the first edition of the CEI, only 13 corporations received a 100%. In the current edition, 252 businesses achieved a perfect rating.
This is the 11th year for the HRC’s CEI and more Fortune 500 companies have made the list than ever before. In fact, this is the first year in which the majority of Fortune 500 corporations have included protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity. The CEI looks at more than just the discrimination policies and awareness and inclusion programs businesses are implementing to promote diversity and prevent discrimination. It also looks at the benefits packages businesses are offering that acknowledge and accommodate the needs of all of its employees, including gender reassignment needs for transgendered individuals. Additionally, a company’s efforts to promote equality in the community and when choosing and dealing with other businesses is considered.
Washington state law prohibits any employer with 8 or more employees operating in the state from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. For this reason, it is no surprise that Washington has a number of companies with perfect or near perfect scores on the CEI. Washington State is the headquarters for five companies that scored 100% on the CEI including Microsoft and Nordstrom. The state also headquarters six companies that earned a 90% rating, each losing 10 points for not offering health plans with transgender benefits, including Amazon, Alaska Air, Costco, REI, and Starbucks. The state law prohibiting LGBT employment discrimination and the state’s recognition of same sex marriage pushed most employers in the state to create policies that guarantee them fairly high, if not perfect ratings, on the HRC’s CEI.
Whether an employer scores a perfect rating or not, employment discrimination can still occur. If you believe you have suffered from discrimination because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact an experience HKM employment law attorney for help.