Corporate Equality Index
The Corporate Equality Index is a report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a tool to rate American businesses on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. Its primary source of data are surveys but researchers cross-check business policy and their implications for LGBT workers and public records independently. The index has been published annually since 2002.
- A written policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
- Inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in its diversity and sensitivity training.
- Parity in domestic partner benefits required by certain laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Appropriate and respectful advertising to the LGBT community.
- Transgender-inclusive health insurance benefits.
- Rejection of any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for LGBT people.
Since 2002, the Corporate Equality Index has been published by the Human Rights Campaign. It was originally modeled after the Gay and Lesbian Values Index, a rating system that was designed by journalist Grant Lukenbill. When the HRC modified it, it became a 100-point system, as opposed to Grant's 10-point one. In its first year, the Corporate Equality Index awarded its 100 percent rating to 13 businesses. Each year, there has been an increase in the number of businesses that achieve this rating. In the 2011 index, 337 companies received the 100 percent rating. The criteria for the index has changed since its first publication. Beginning in 2006, transgender rights issues became more imperative to the index than they had previously been; consequently, the 2012 index will include more updated criteria regarding benefits of partnerships and transgender inclusivity.
Effects on Corporate America
There are competing opinions about the effect that a company's rating has on its business. Some say that having a high rating will have a positive impact, while others say that it will cause a company to lose popularity among conservative customers. A study in Colorado showed that having a good rating in the CEI does not harm a company's stocks. The index also encourages companies to change their policies regarding LGBT employees, and in many cases accomplishes this goal. From 2004 to 2005, 92 percent of the corporations listed included transgender discrimination protection where they previously had not. Additionally, many companies are pressured to change policies that have earned them a poor score on the index, due to bad press. This has led to a competitive atmosphere among businesses to stay current in the latest LGBT-related inclusive policies. Larger corporations are much more likely to change LGBT-related policies as a result of the index than small or medium companies are. The Human Rights Campaign focuses on larger companies in the CEI, so smaller businesses are subject to little public backlash due to the efforts of the Human Rights Campaign and the index.
Since its beginning in 2002, the Corporate Equality Index has had a financial effect on the businesses included in its ratings system. In 2007, the Human Rights Campaign introduced a mobile guide for consumers, allowing anyone to see a company's rating before choosing whether to do business with it, simply by texting the company's name to the index's short code, receiving an immediate response.
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