More Companies Than Ever Offer Same-Sex Benefits

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More big U.S. companies are actively protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination and advocating for equal rights.

A total of 304 major U.S. businesses got a perfect score of 100 percent in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index – a vast improvement over the first-year results of 13 with a score of 100 in 2002.

True, the number of businesses that participate or are rated in the survey has grown substantially since the early years, but the sizeable increase of those with a perfect score reflects a major change in thinking. Corporate America is in some ways a lot more progressive than it appears.

“That’s up from 252 perfect scores last year and 189 two years ago,” CNNMoney says. It adds:

A perfect “corporate equality” score means a company has a nondiscrimination policy in place protecting LGBT employees, provides same-sex partner health benefits, offers transgender-inclusive medical insurance, publicly supports LGBT equality and has organization-wide LGBT initiatives.

Those policies of nondiscrimination are all the more important because protection from discrimination for LGBT people is still not the law of the land.

The 2014 Corporate Equality Index report is full of interesting information, whether you’re looking for a new job or you want to see if a particular corporation is in line with your thoughts about equality. Toward the end, there’s a list of all the companies that were included and their scores, broken down by the type of business they are — financial institution, food company, tech company, etc. It’s an easy resource to consult.

These are big companies and you’ll recognize many on the list. For example, Wal-Mart, which will begin providing health insurance to same-sex partners of employees in 2014, got an 80 percent. Ford and General Motors each got 100 percent, as did JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. Many tech companies, like Google and Microsoft, also had perfect scores.

Exxon Mobil was at the bottom with a -25. Yes, that is a minus. Companies get 25 points deducted “for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records,” the report says. Exxon Mobil was the only company on the complete list that earned that mark of shame.

Exxon Mobil announced in late September — months after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the odious Defense of Marriage Act, that it would extend spousal benefits to married same-sex couples, but the oil company doesn’t have a policy specifically banning discrimination against LGBT employees. Shareholders refuse to approve it.

Overall, many of America’s biggest companies look pretty progressive. The report says:

A record 299 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses have official CEI ratings based on submitted surveys (as compared to 293 last year), with an average rating of 83. One hundred and twenty-five of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses achieved a 100 percent rating, with 13 of the top 20 Fortune-ranked businesses at this top score.

Ninty-one percent of the Fortune 500 include “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination policies and 61 percent include “gender identity.” The majority of the total Fortune 500 — 67 percent — offer equivalent medical benefits between spouses and partners and 28 percent offer transgender-inclusive health care benefits, including surgical procedures.

The biggest U.S. corporations are invited to participate in the rating, but any company with 500 or more U.S. employees can ask to be included. “The number of employers rated from the first CEI to the present has expanded from 319 to 734,” the report says.

Stacy Johnson

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