Friends in high places
The recent decision by Hallmark Company to sell greeting cards celebrating gay marriage was all over the news recently. But the news really should have come as no surprise. As an exhaustive report released Sept. 2 by the gay rights lobby Human Rights Campaign known as The Corporate Equality Index 2009 (CEI) shows, major-brand corporations are more pro-gay than every before:
In step with the CEI’s trend line of upward growth, the number of top-rated businesses [participating] reached an unprecedented 259 this year — 64 more than last year, totaling over 9.3 million fulltime employees working for 100 percent rated businesses. Many businesses are also seeking out practices to further distinguish their workplaces beyond the minimum benchmarks.
[The report is compiled mainly from responses to an extensive questionnaire covering all aspects of a company’s dealing with gay employees, customers and causes. Among the questions on the 2009 survey were the following]:
Does your primary non-discrimination or equal employment opportunity policy statement include the terms “gender identity or expression” or “gender identity”?
[I]s there at least one firmsponsored insurance plan that does not exclude coverage (transgender treatment covered) for medically-necessary treatment related to gender dysphoria or gender reassignment?
Does your business have written gender transition guidelines documenting supportive policy or practice on issues pertinent to a workplace gender transition?
Does your business have a firm-wide diversity council or working group with a mission that specifically includes GLBT diversity?
If you provide diversity awareness or employee training, what topics are covered and who is required to attend?
[The report broke down the numbers in numerous ways, such as]:
SEXUAL ORIENTATION Sexual orientation is generally defined as an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person.
99% of CEI-rated employers provide employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation. GENDER IDENTITY Gender identity is generally defined as an individual’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman. For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.
66% of CEI-rated employers provide employment protections on the basis of gender identity or expression, the highest figure to date. The expansion of these protections has been remarkable; growth from the 2002 CEI has been 12-fold, when just 5 percent of CEI-rated employers included gender identity protections in 2002.
LGBT Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Councils
78% of CEI-rated employers have an employee resource group or diversity council that includes LGBT issues. Of those businesses that have an employee resource group, 90 percent of the groups are sponsored by an executive champion — someone in upper management who connects the group to the senior decision makers of the company.
[Among the companies that rated a “perfect” 100 percent score]:
3M, Allstate, American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Boeing, Campbell Soup, Capital One Financial Corp., Chrysler, Citigroup, Coca Cola, Continental Airlines, ebay, Ford, Gap, General Motors, Levi Strauss, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, MasterCard, Merck, Merrill Lynch, Nike, PepsiCo, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Shell Oil, Sprint Nextel, Starbucks, Target, Toyota, Unilever, US Airways and. . . the Walt Disney Co.
Meanwhile, a local owner of seven Hallmark stores in Idaho has decided not to stock the gay wedding cards in his store. Gay rights groups are mulling a boycott.
— “Corporate Equality Index 2009,” posted at the Human Rights Campaign website at hrc.org