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The new normal: Corporate America stands with the LGBT community

WASHINGTON – On the heels of historic electoral victories for marriage equality last week, corporate America has shown once again it is on the right side of history when it comes to LGBT equality. Workplace discrimination protections are the new normal in the business world, while the federal government and many state governments lag behind in addressing discrimination against LGBT workers. Businesses are also coming out in record numbers in support of marriage equality.

This new reality is reflected in the fierce competition between companies to recruit and retain the best employees and to influence consumer choices, and has resulted in the improved lives of millions of LGBT Americans. That’s according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees.

In the 2013 CEI, released today, a record 252 businesses achieved the top rating of 100 percent, earning the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” As a point of comparison, 13 businesses (Chevron, General Motors, Bank of America, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Verizon, AIG, IBM, Cardinal Health and Freddie Mac) earned a 100% in the inaugural CEI 11 years ago, demonstrating that a new normal has arrived. The policies, benefits and practices businesses must implement to earn a perfect score are best-in-class demonstrations of corporate commitments to LGBT workers.

In San Diego, Sempra Energy scored a 100%.

The top rated businesses span across industries, geographies and size. View the full report HERE.

“Corporate America continues to raise the bar in workplace fairness,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president. “LGBT-inclusive workplace policies are not only the right thing to do and good business practices, they are the new normal. Americans have spoken, and as we celebrate our victories at the ballot box, we hope Congress will follow corporate America’s lead and create a level playing field – including passing fully-inclusive workplace non-discrimination legislation.”

This year’s report at a glance:

• A record 74 major businesses and law firms publicly supported pro-equality legislation at the state and federal levels – including those that took an active role in the marriage campaigns this fall.

• The 2013 CEI saw the largest growth in the survey’s history with 54 new businesses participating. The number of employers officially rated in the CEI has skyrocketed from 319 in 2002, to 688 this year, a jump of 116%.

• This year’s CEI marks the first time a majority of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies that cover gender identity (from 50% to 57%), while an astonishing 84% of overall CEI participants cover gender identity.

• Transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage continues to rise. Now in its second year as a mandatory criterion for a company to earn 100%, 287 (42%) participating companies offer comprehensive healthcare coverage to their transgender workers, up from 19% last year.

While basic protections for LGBT employees have become the norm, record numbers of American businesses have also updated their larger benefits packages, adding “soft benefits” for LGBT workers, including things like retirement benefits to domestic partners and relocation assistance. With benefits accounting for roughly 20% of an employee’s compensation, companies recognize this as a matter of equal pay for equal work.

Over the past 11 years, the CEI has become the gold standard for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees and their families. The CEI rates companies on 40 such policies and practices. A total of 889 businesses have been rated in the 2013 CEI, including the entire Fortune 500. This year a record 293 of the Fortune 500-ranked businesses have an official CEI rating, with the other 201 rated based upon publicly-available data.

As the CEI has proven over the last decade, such a project can propel equality forward by sparking competition and raising awareness about what inequalities persist. On Dec. 3, HRC will release the inaugural Municipal Equality Index, which rates 137 cities on how inclusive their laws, policies, and city services are.