Corporate America is getting better about LGBT rights and benefits

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By Zack Jenkins

“Providing an inclusive environment isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes business sense,” said Rafael Gutierrez, Vice President of Diversity for Ameriprise Financial Inc. Ameriprise Financial, along with 88 other Fortune 500 companies, received a perfect score of 100 on the 2012 Corporate Equality Index, an annual report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the research and education arm for LGBT civil rights advocacy.
 
Corporate America has been increasingly extending benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. However, it is still legal to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation in 29 states. Where state legislation fails to protect equal rights in the workplace, some companies have in place their own anti-discrimination clauses.
 
Todd Corley, the Senior Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Abercrombie and Fitch Co. told the HRC that “Abercrombie and Fitch is especially proud this year in receiving another perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index, because this year marked a change in the scoring criteria used to achieve this honor.”
 
The 2012 Index added the extension of health insurance coverage without exclusion to transgender employees. In order to receive a top ranking, many companies either added medical coverage or already had it in place for all transgender employees.
 
All in all, 636 companies were scored, from airlines to pharmaceutical companies, clothing retailers to consulting firms. The only company to score a negative on the index, with a score of -25, was Exxon Mobil, the Irving, Texas-based oil company.
 
In 1999 Exxon and Mobil merged and, where LGBT employees received protection under Mobil, they no longer found it under Exxon. After 14 years of denying LGBT discrimination in the workplace, the Securities and Exchange Commission denied Exxon the request to omit a resolution on sexual orientation at its annual shareholder meeting, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Exxon competitors BP, Shell, and Spectra all scored 85 or higher on the Index, with Chevron attaining a perfect score.
 
Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Morgan Stanley, Jeffrey Siminoff talked with HRC about the importance of an inclusive workplace for the performance of the company. “By empowering our people and prospective employees to bring their full selves to the table, we leverage differences to drive best-in-class business results and enhance the development of our talented professionals.”
 
The quiet revolution of Corporate America to embrace LGBT equality in the workplace is growing its way into the social landscape around it. Rafael Gutierrez of Ameriprise put it simply, “Diversity enriches our corporate culture and helps us deliver the innovative ideas and financial solutions that make a difference in people’s lives.”
 
429Magazine would love to hear from our readers about your experiences with equal rights in the workplace. Drop us a comment with your story and let us know what your company has done to further workplace diversity and equality.

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