Expanded Coverage

by Jeff Taylor and Lainey Millen, qnotes staff
and from releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A handful of North Carolina and South Carolina businesses have been ranked by the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, to varying results. Released on Nov. 18, the index rates company’s LGBT worker inclusion in major companies and law firms across the country.

“Corporate America has long been a leader on LGBT equality, from advocating for marriage equality to expanding essential benefits to transgender employees,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “But this year, many leading U.S. companies have broken new ground by expanding explicit nondiscrimination protections to their LGBT workers around the globe. They’ve shown the world that LGBT equality isn’t an issue that stops at our own borders, but extends internationally.”

Charlotte-based Bank of America was one of the companies given a perfect score of 100. Duke Energy received a 90, losing points for failing to offer transgender-inclusive health plans. Moore & Van Allen PLLC received an 85. Compass Group USA, a food service management company, scored the lowest in North Carolina with a 50.

According to the report, Compass Group was penalized for failing to prohibit discrimination based on gender identify or expression, failing to require non-discrimination standards for contractors that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and lacking transgender health insurance coverage.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., Delhaize America Inc., based in Salisbury, N.C., Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, based in Taylorsville, N.C., Replacements, LTD., based in McLeansville, N.C. and Womble Carlyle Sandbridge & Rice, LLP., based in Winston-Salem, N.C., all scored a perfect 100.

“Delhaize America is committed to upholding a diverse and inclusive environment for all of our associates,” said Millette Granville, director of diversity and inclusion for Delhaize America which owns Food Lion. “We are proud and honored to have earned a perfect score in the Corporate Equality Index again this year, a true reflection of this mission.”

The honor is especially meaningful for Replacements’ Founder and CEO Bob Page, who married his long-time partner Dale Frederiksen on the couple’s 26th anniversary last March.

“I never thought in a million years I’d be able to marry Dale and, with our 16-year-old twin sons, be recognized as a legal family,” Page shared. “As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in June, now all employees with same-sex spouses and their families have access to workplace benefits that we established years ago here at Replacements.”

GlaxoSmithKline LLC, based in Research Triangle Park, scored a 95, Ingersoll-Rand Company, based in Davidson, N.C., scored a 90, Hanesbrands, Inc., based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and VF Corp., based in Greensville, N.C., both scored an 85.

BB&T, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., scored an 80, losing points for not offering transgender inclusive health insurance.

Reynolds America, Inc., also based in Winston-Salem, N.C., scored an 80 and Quaintance-Weaver Inc., based in Greensboro, N.C., only managed a 60.

In South Carolina, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, based in Columbia, S.C., and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, based in Greenville, S.C., both scored an 85. Denny’s Corp., based in Spartanburg, S.C., scored a 75.

Companies are ranked based on criteria in the following categories:

1. Non-discrimination policies

2. Employment benefits

3. Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion

4. Public commitment to LGBT equality

5. Responsible citizenship

The full report is available online.

Concerns voiced over HRC’s index results

However, not everyone is happy about the index results.

Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis reacted to the news and shared his views.

“We are disappointed that the HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) rewards big corporations for questionable employment practices without taking into consideration the lived experiences of the LGBTQ working people in those corporations. It is our position that any company that takes action to stall, stymie, or otherwise undermine the efforts of their workers to unionize is preventing LGBTQ working people from achieving the full nondiscrimination protections federal — and most state law currently doesn’t provide. LGBTQ working people receive far more protection under an inclusive union contract than they do under any existing state law.

“We believe the CEI should take the lived experience of the workers who are subject to the policies these companies are being lauded for holding into consideration when scoring these companies and we’ve offered to help HRC in those efforts in every way we can. The gap between a policy’s existence and its implementation is vast, which is one of the many reasons unions exist — to ensure a company adopts and adheres to appropriate labor policies and practices.

“Companies like Walmart and TMobile continue to receive high scores on the HRC CEI despite their treatment of workers overall and, in the specific case of Walmart, the treatment of LGBTQ workers. Despite multiple LGBTQ discrimination lawsuits against the company, many other documented incidents of anti-LGBTQ bias, and our own call for the company’s score to be suspended, Walmart’s rating remains inconceivably high.

“Our offer to assist HRC in making the CEI more reflective of the real world environment of these workplaces remains intact.”

info: hrc.org/cei. prideatwork.org.