New Report Shows Corporate America Increasingly Competing to be the Most Gay-Friendly

Industry Trends Show Fierce Competition; Benefits Ranging From Domestic

Partner Health Plans to Transgender Protections

Sep 19, 2006, 01:00 ET from Human Rights Campaign

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Human Rights Campaign today
 released a report showing that a record number of the largest U.S.
 companies are increasingly competing to expand benefits and protections for
 their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers. This
 year's report, the Human Rights Campaign's fifth annual Corporate Equality
 Index, showed an unprecedented 138 major U.S. companies earned the top
 rating of 100 percent. That number is up from 101 in 2005, and has grown
 ten-fold in four years.
     "I am incredibly encouraged and optimistic about the findings in this
 report. Companies are not only working to improve their scores, they are
 actively competing to be ranked the most inclusive and fair-minded in their
 industry," said Human Rights Campaign President, Joe Solmonese. "Leading
 companies, which years ago instituted basic equal employment policies, are
 accelerating their efforts to expand the range of benefits. This
 competition sends a clear message that corporate America is rapidly
 becoming a place of fairness for GLBT Americans."
     Indeed, this year's report found fierce competition within industries
 for the top rating, triggering quick actions to improve company policies
 and benefits at many companies. Using the CEI, companies can examine their
 scores in absolute terms, but also relative to their competitors. For
 example, last year Raytheon Co. was the only member of the aerospace
 industry to get a perfect score. This year, however, three of its
 competitors also earned 100%. Four other industries saw rapid growth in
 companies achieving the top score. A total of eight law firms, five
 pharmaceutical companies and five consulting houses all reached 100 percent
 for the first time in 2006. And, while in 2005, two major auto companies
 achieved the top rating, this year, that number doubled to four.
     "CEOs are very much aware of their score and its impact on their
 business. They know that a top score means a healthier work environment,
 greater productivity, and the ability to recruit top talent. They also know
 that a bad score will hurt their bottom line," Solmonese added.
     In all of the policy and benefits areas that were measured, the report
 reveals double digit increases in the number of companies adhering to the
 criteria. Among the companies surveyed in the new report, this year:
     * 75 percent more companies than in 2005 prohibited discrimination against
       transgender employees in employment practices
     * 64 percent more companies than in 2005 implemented at least one wellness
       benefit for transgender employees
     * 35 percent more companies than in 2005 extended COBRA, vision, dental
       and dependent medical coverage to employees' same-sex domestic partners
     * 14 percent more companies than in 2005 engaged in philanthropic or
       marketing activities directed toward the GLBT community
     Almost all of the companies rated -- 436 or 98 percent -- include
 sexual orientation in their non-discrimination polices.
     "Corporations are rapidly adopting a more complete vision of fairness
 for GLBT employees in policy and practice," said Daryl Herrschaft, Director
 for HRC's Workplace Project and author of the report. "These findings
 reflect a common desire in organizations today to move at a heightened pace
 to implement fair and equal policies for GLBT employees and then work to
 publicize their achievements."
     Three companies received a score of zero on the report. They are: oil
 giant, ExxonMobil, grocery chain Meijer Inc, and high-tech consulting firm
 Perot Systems. None of these companies offer even the most minimal benefits
 or workplace protections to their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
     The analysis released today covers 446 companies. The report includes
 surveys from Fortune 1000, Standard & Poor's 500, Forbes' list of the 200
 largest privately held firms, the American Lawyer 100, and any other
 company with 500 or more employees that requested a rating or for which HRC
 had sufficient data to derive a score.
     The Human Rights Campaign not only tracked the progress of companies,
 it was actively involved in improving corporate scores. For the past
 several years, the Human Rights Campaign's Workplace Project has worked
 with hundreds of executives of small, medium and large businesses as well
 as with GLBT employees to provide on-site training on fair policies and
 provide pertinent cutting-edge research that helps businesses learn best
 practices, successful models and the positive results created by
 implementing these policies in their workplace.
     The 2006 HRC Corporate Equality Index rated companies on a scale of 0
 percent to 100 percent on several factors, including whether they have a
 written non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation; support
 transgender employees with written non-discrimination policies and
 benefits; offer inclusive health insurance, bereavement, and family leave
 policies to employees with same-sex partners; offer diversity training;
 have GLBT employee groups; engage in appropriate and respectful advertising
 to the GLBT community; contribute to GLBT community organizations; and
 decline to engage in any activities that would undermine the goal of equal
 rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
     A copy of the report and all ratings can be found at
     The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay
 political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively
 lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to
 ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open,
 honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign