A recent diversity and inclusion report has given top marks to many fortune 500 companies for their inclusive policies around LGBTQ+ workers and their families. The Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is an annual assessment of company policies, employment frameworks, and employee benefit structures conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The study reached out to over 1,200 participants, noting that over 800 companies have successfully incorporated equitable practices. That means 67 percent of the assessed companies have greatly improved the marker on the inclusivity of LGBTQ+ employees to ensure equitable access to jobs and can live life authentically.
The report comes as an achievement for many who envision corporates focusing on creating an equitable workplace. The report notes that the rise in inclusive policies has been backed by a proven increase in recruitment and retention of talented and diverse workforces in many work environments.
"The inaugural edition of the CEI included 319 participants, with 13 companies achieving top scores. The 20th-anniversary edition of the CEI now includes over 1,200 participants and more than 800 top scorers," notes Joni Madison, Interim President, Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “Ultimately,” she adds, “the growth of the CEI reflects the truth that so many leading businesses have come to embrace: leveling the playing field for LGBTQ+ workers is not simply a societal good; it is also good for business.
Key findings of the report
The Corporate Equality Index 2022 states that over 91 percent of the Fortune 500 have gender identity protections enumerated in their non-discrimination policies. In a report that focuses on the state of inclusive and non-discriminatory workplaces, the CEI noted that over 97 percent of the interviewed companies offered explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections to its employee. 93 percent of CEI-rated employers offered a robust set of practices to support organizational LGBTQ+ diversity competencies.
When it comes to benefits, the report notes 77 percent of documented companies provided inclusive benefits for same- and different-sex spouses and partners. Over 91 percent of businesses rated by the index offered at least one transgender-inclusive plan option with current market standard coverage, up from 0 in 2002 and just 8 percent in the 2009 CEI report. Additionally, 67 percent of the Fortune 500 and 86 percent of all CEI-rated businesses offer transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage.
Pointing to change in the overall landscape, the report highlights how this number has grown from 0 percent back in 2002 to over 22 times as many businesses as in 2009. The number has steadily risen as the index identifies over 108 new employers that offer this coverage according to the 2022 report.
Companies leading the way
Top fortune 500 companies like Apple, Walmart, and Berkshire Hathway, all formed a part of the study and were given top points when it came to creating an equitable work environment. Companies like Grant Thorton have figured in the top end of the CEI index rating for six years in a row.
Responding to the recognition of its equitable employee policies, Rashada Whitehead, Grant Thornton’s National Managing Director of Culture, Immersion & Inclusion shared that “receiving a perfect Corporate Equality Index rating for the sixth year in a row is both an honor and affirmation that we are moving in the right direction. For her, it was the recognition of the company’s commitment towards fostering an environment in which inclusion is a way of life. “This requires consistency,” she noted, “tenacious care, and the courage to evaluate and do things differently when needed. Every person deserves to feel safe, respected, and included. Our professionals play an instrumental role in influencing the policies and procedures that ensure we continue to cultivate a community where they feel valued and know they belong.”
The report highlights how companies have been able to improve their CEI ratings not only by creating policies and frameworks but by actually involving leaders and employees in the process. This is reflective of how companies seek to combat unconscious bias among managers and ensure policies lead to on-ground improvements. The report identifies that changing accountability metrics can help create senior-level buy-in for the long term. The report also notes that retaining employees is largely about everyday experiences on the job not solely about policies.