The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released its twelfth annual 2014 Corporate Equality Index, known as “the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.”
Out of 934 businesses rated, the report gives a total of 304 of them the highest possible score for LGBT inclusion and support, awarding them the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”
In the introduction to the report, a letter from HRC Foundation President Chad Griffin declares that this year’s CEI “reveals record numbers of major businesses updating their non-discrimination policies and benefits packages well ahead of federal mandates.”
Among Fortune 500 companies, 91 percent have policies explicitly protecting workers on the basis of sexual orientation, and 61 percent on the basis of gender identity; 67 percent offer benefits to same-sex partners, and 28 percent offer essential health care benefits for their transgender employees.
“Since the CEI’s inception 12 years ago, the HRC Foundation and our partners have been committed to raising the bar for corporate equality,” Griffin writes. “But this year proved that businesses are committed to raising that bar along with us—and sometimes to even forging ahead. That’s news worth celebrating, and it’s improving the lives of millions of LGBT people every day.”
One company earning repeat honors is Wells Fargo, winning its eleventh consecutive “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” a title it has been awarded every year since it first began participating in the CEI surveys in 2003. The company was also recognized in its support of the LGBT community by “DiversityInc” magazine, which awarded it the number one spot on its Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees list; the publication puts out a survey of Top 50 Companies for Diversity annually.
Wells Fargo’s Chief Administrative Officer, Pat Callahan, said in a statement, “Our commitment and service to the LGBT community dates back over 25 years and continues to grow year after year. We thank the HRC for its ongoing work for LGBT equality. While we are extremely honored to have received its highest rating over the past 11 years, we remain deeply committed to continuing our support of the LGBT community. This includes providing specialized financial products and services to meet the unique needs of our LGBT customers and to help them succeed financially.”
Also recognized were NBCUniversal and Comcast; NBCUniversal is known for being ahead of the curve on putting out programming that features LGBT content. Its early 1980s sitcom “Love, Sidney” was the first ever on American TV with a gay main character; in 1985, they broadcast the TV movie “An Early Frost,” the first major film focused on AIDS; a 1991 episode of “L.A. Law” was the first to show a lesbian kiss; and, to date, NBC’s “Will & Grace” is the most popular show with LGBT characters ever in the US.
Currently, LGBT-inclusive NBC shows include “Chicago Fire,” “Sean Saves the World,” and “Days of our Lives”; additionally, the network hosts the openly LGBT Rachel Maddow, Thomas Roberts, Steve Kornacki, and Suze Orman.
Subscribers to Comcast’s Xfinity service have access to the online portal Xfinity.com/LGBT, which offers a wealth of LGBT-oriented media. Xfinity TV also offers LGBT-themed On Demand content available to watch on TV anytime, which includes movies, biographical films, interviews, documentaries, and TV shows.
Both Comcast and NBC have LGBT outreach programs, called Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that go to lengths to ensure LGBT employees feel included, valued, and engaged at every level for the benefit of both them and the company; OUT@NBCUniversal, founded in 1986, was one of the first ERGs for LGBT employees in the US.
Together, Comcast and NBC also run the Joint Diversity Advisory Council, which provides advice to companies seeking to develop and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives.