WASHINGTON, D.C. — America’s leading companies and law firms are meeting strengthened criteria to meet the evolving needs of the LGBTQ community around the world, according to the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.

The foundation has strengthened its criteria to meet the needs of LGBTQ workers in the most rigorous score card to date. Five hundred and seventy one companies have been designated a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality for their efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking including 13 in North Carolina.

In total, 892 companies and law firms were officially rated in the new CEI, up from 887 in last year’s. The report also unofficially rated 135 Fortune 500 companies, which have yet to respond to an invitation to participate in the CEI survey assessing their LGBTQ policies and practices. The average score for companies and law firms based in North Carolina is 88 percent. Of the 21 companies ranked, 13 earned 100 points, 3 earned 90 points and above and 17 earned 80 points and above.

“The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Many of these companies have also become vocal advocates for equality in the public square, including the dozens that have signed on to amicus briefs in vital Supreme Court cases and the more than 170 that have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Time and again, leading American businesses have shown that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do it’s also good for business.”

North Carolina companies and their ratings percentage include:

VF Corp., Greensboro, 100; Hanesbrands Inc., Winston-Salem, 75; BB&T Corp., Winston-Salem, 90; Bank of America Corp., 75; Lenovo (United States) Inc., Morrisville, 100; Duke Energy Corp., Charlotte, 100; Compass Group USA Inc., Charlotte, 80; Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, Burlington, 100; Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham, 55; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Taylorsville, 100; Quaintance-Weaver Management, LLC,  Greensboro, 100; Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte, 100; Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, Winston-Salem, 100; Ingersoll-Rand Company, Davidson, 90; GlaxoSmithKline LLC, Research Triangle Park, 100; Food Lion, Salisbury, 100; Lowe’s Companies Inc., Mooresville, 100; Replacements Ltd., McLeansville, 100; Reynolds American Inc., Winston-Salem, 90; Alliance One International,  Morrisville, 0; and Cargo Transporters Inc., Claremont, 100.

Other key findings revealed in the 2019 CEI:

  • The number of U.S. employees with a corporate non-discrimination policy protecting them from sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination is 16.8 million.
  • Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just three percent in 2002.
  • More than 500 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.
  • 135 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.

Over the last several years, CEI-rated companies have dramatically expanded their support for transgender workers. This year 83 percent of companies participating in this year’s CEI offer at least one healthcare policy that is inclusive of their transgender workers, and 73 met stringent new criteria that requires all blanket exclusions of medically-necessary care for transgender workers be removed from all health policies the company offers. Additional this year, the CEI scoring criteria requires that to earn a top score, businesses must maintain domestic partner benefits for same- and different-sex partners and require that their supplier diversity programs explicitly include LGBTQ-owned suppliers.

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 and responsible citizenship.

The full report is available online.

info: hrc.org.

Lainey Millen

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.