The other day, in the e-mailed news, my employer boasted of being named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” so, naturally, I followed the link, to the 2017 edition of the Corporate Equality Index, which reports that 517 American companies earned this distinction by meeting all of the Human Rights Campaign’s requirements for a 100% rating.
It’s actually very clever the way the HRC operates: they use a “frog in boiling water” principle, by each year ratcheting up the requirements to achieve this 100% rating, so that, once a company has achieved this rating in any one year, they feel compelled to meet the next year’s demands, which don’t necessarily seem that much more burdensome than the prior year’s, and so on.
From the full report, here’s how the requirements have evolved:
The ratings began in 2002, and at the time simply required that employers be committed to equal treatment of employees, consumers, and investors, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
In 2004, they required comprehensive domestic partner benefits and coverage of transgender medical services.
In 2009, they added requirements for “organizational competency on LGBT issues and employers’ public commitment to equality for the broader LGBT community. ” “Organizational competency” means such things as formal training in HR, collection of LGBT employee data, and inclusion of LGBT diversity in senior management performance metrics. These requirements were effective as of 2011, so as to function as marching orders for companies, rather than just measurements of where employers were.
In 2014, effective for 2017, they required that companies have nondiscrimination policies both in their US operations and globally, that those companies in turn, require their contractors to abide by the same policies, and
Implement internal requirements prohibiting U.S. company/ law firm philanthropic giving to nonreligious organizations that have a written policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
And its announced new requirements for 2019 are that companies must grant full benefits to domestic partners as well as spouses; companies must provide transgender benefits including medical leave, mental health benefits, full coverage for sex reassignment without limitations on numbers of surgeries or dollar maximums, coverage of out-of-network providers at in-network rates as well as travel/lodging costs if there are no “adequate specialists” locally, and also must cover reversals of such surgeries or treatments (!); and that companies must include outreach to LGBT-owned businesses for suppliers.
What’s more: have you noticed that advertising with gay families is becoming much more prevalent, and that companies are explicitly announcing their support, say, in promoted tweets? That’ to meet criteria 4 (which should probably criterion 4, no?), “public commitment”, in which businesses must do 3 of the following for actions:
- LGBT employee recruitment
- outreach to LGBT suppliers
- Marketing to LGBT consumers (advertising with LGBT content, in LGBT media, or sponsoring LGBT organizations/events)
- Philanthropic support of a LGBT organization or event.
It’s actually a bit scary how readily employers are willing to cooperate to maintain their top rating, especially when it comes to the demands for “no unacceptable charity” and “you must donate and promote our cause.”
Oh, and one last item: a 25 point subtraction for “a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records. No employer received this deduction in the 2017 CEI.” I suspect, though, that this was exactly the tool used to punish Mozilla for Brendan Eich’s support of the Californian anti-gay marriage ballot proposition, or, at any rate, would have been so had they not fired him so quickly.
Readers, your thoughts?
Image: a generic office. Because what else am I going to do – show a generic LGBT person? https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANew_office.jpg; By Phil Whitehouse (Flickr: New office) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons