More than ever before, major U.S. companies are expanding benefits and protections for their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) employees, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
The advocacy group found that more companies added health benefits for same-sex domestic partners of employees during 2006, up 35 percent over last year's number. The report also noted increases in companies banning discrimination against transgender employees as well as increases in corporate philanthropy toward the GLBT community.
The annual report, known as the Corporate Equality Index, looked at 446 companies, drawn from the Fortune 1000 list and the Forbes list of the 200 largest privately held U.S. firms. Each company received a numerical rank according to its GLBT-friendly policies, with 100 being a perfect score.
A total of 138 companies received perfect scores in 2006, up from 101 in 2005. The list of companies includes Aetna, Apple Computer, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Coors, Eastman Kodak, Gap, IBM, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Merrill Lynch, Motorola, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Viacom, Visa, and Wells Fargo. For the complete report and list of companies, go to www.hrc.org/cei.
Criteria for the ratings include domestic partner benefits beyond health insurance (e.g. COBRA, vision, or dental), retirement benefits, leave policies and supportive workplace guidelines.
Business leaders and community leaders agree that promoting equal treatment of GLBT workers makes good business sense.
"GLBT inclusiveness is a critical component of our objective to the employer of choice, service provider of choice, business partner of choice and neighbor of choice globally," said Ana Duarte McCarthy, chief diversity officer of Citigroup.
"Leading companies, which years ago instituted basic equal employment policies, are accelerating their efforts to expand the range of benefits," said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. "This competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly becoming a place of fairness for GLBT Americans."
The Oct. 6, 2006, issue of the Advocate, a GLBT news magazine, also spotlighted 10 companies as new additions to the magazine's list of top U.S. employers for gay and lesbian workers. The 10 companies -- all of whom received perfect scores from the HRC -- are: Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Coca-Cola, Deloitte & Touche, Intuit, Kraft Foods, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Volkswagen of America.