DAVOS, Switzerland — At an event hosted by the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David announced that a record 686 of America’s leading companies and law firms were continuing to advance policies and practices to protect their LGBTQ workers — both at home and abroad, according to the HRC Foundation’s newly-released 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

In the 2020 index, the highest number of companies in the CEI’s 18-year history earned top scores of 100 in the survey, the nation’s top measure of LGBTQ workplace inclusion, besting last year’s total of 572 by more than 100. These companies — including 214 Fortune 500 companies and 123 of the nation’s top 200 law firms — were designated a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. Their efforts on behalf of their LGBTQ workers come at a time when the Trump-Pence administration is continuing its sustained attack on LGBTQ people — from a “license to discriminate” order targeting LGBTQ people as they go about their daily lives to proposing federal regulations to remove protections for LGBTQ employees of federal contractors. These companies have additionally weighed in on global equality and paid family leave.

“These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do — it is also the best business decision. In addition, many of these leaders are also advocating for the LGBTQ community and equality under the law in the public square,” David said. “From supporting LGBTQ civil rights protections in the U.S. through HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, to featuring transgender and non-binary people in an ad in Argentina, to advocating for marriage equality in Taiwan — businesses understand their LGBTQ employees and customers deserve to be seen, valued and respected not only at work, but in every aspect of daily life.”

For the first time, HRC this year gave special recognition to the 11 companies that earned top marks on all three of HRC’s workplace equality assessments: the CEI, as well as Equidad MX and Equidad CL. HRC’s Equidad program recognizes Latin American companies and U.S. multinational companies for their work in Mexico and Chile.

“Transforming industry and society takes more than any one organization alone. It takes consistent and sustained effort to overcome longstanding injustices that are codified in bodies of law or embedded in dominant cultural norms,” said Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft Chief Diversity Officer. “The Corporate Equality Index sets forth a common standard that I hope all organizations embrace — challenging us to constructively disrupt systems, drive change within our business and the places where we do business — to be more fair, more caring and more human.”

More than 260 top businesses — including 191 that earned top scores on the CEI — are also corporate supporters on the Equality Act. While the Supreme Court decides whether LGBTQ people are protected by federal employment non-discrimination law, these companies hold the line for their employees and their families.

Carolinas companies that received a perfect score are: BB&T Corp. (now Truist) (Winston-Salem), Cargo Transporters Inc (Claremont), Duke Energy Corp. (Charlotte), Food Lion (Salisbury), GlaxoSmithKline LLC (Research Triangle Park), Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (Burlington), Lenovo (United States) Inc. (Morrisville), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (Mooresville), Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (Taylorsville), Moore & Van Allen PLLC (Charlotte), Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart (Greenville, S.C.), Quaintance-Weaver Management, LLC (Greensboro), Replacements Ltd. (McLeansville), Retail Business Services (Salisbury), Reynolds American Inc. (Winston-Salem), VF Corp. (Greensboro) and Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP (Winston-Salem).

Other companies scored included: Advance Auto Parts (Advance Holding) (Raleigh) 90, Alliance One International (Morrisville) 30, Bank of America Corp. (Charlotte) 75, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Durham) 45, Compass Group USA Inc. (Charlotte) 80, Denny’s Corp. (Spartanburg) 75, Ingersoll-Rand Company (Davidson) 90,  Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP (Columbia) 75, Nucor Corp. (Charlotte) 20, Quintiles Transnational (Durham) 0, Relias LLC (Morrisville) 80, Sealed Air Corp. (Charlotte) 0, Sonic Automotive Inc. (Charlotte) 0 and Sonoco Products Company (Hartsville) 45.

Other key findings revealed in the 2020 CEI:

• The 686 companies who earned a 100 on the CEI represent 12.4 million employees nationally, 11.9 million globally and earn a combined estimate of $12.9 trillion in revenue.

• Eighty-three companies participated in the CEI for the first time in 2020 with 36 debuting at a score of 100 — including Etsy Inc., Peloton Interactive Inc. and Stop & Shop, and Warner Music Group.

• Of all Fortune 500 companies, 93 percent have sexual orientation in their U.S. non-discrimination policy, and 91 percent have gender identity.

• The average CEI score for all Fortune 500 companies increased from 67 to 71 in the past year — with actively participating Fortune 500 companies having an average score of 90, up from 88 last year.

Over the last several years, CEI-rated companies have expanded their support for transgender workers. This year 89 percent of companies participating in the CEI offer at least one healthcare policy that is inclusive of their transgender workers, and 85 percent met stringent criteria that requires all blanket exclusions of medically-necessary care for transgender workers be removed from all health policies the company offers — up from 73 percent last year.

The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria in four broad categories:

• Non-discrimination policies

• Employment benefits

• Supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility including public commitment to LGBTQ equality

• Responsible citizenship

The full report is available online or by clicking here.

info: hrc.org.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.