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Thursday, April 6, 2006

Issue: Corporate Equality Index

Yesterday, I mentioned the Human Rights Campaign's "Corporate Equality Index." It's their annual report card rating corporate America's treatment of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) employees. HR and Diversity professionals should be aware of its existence and how other companies use it.

This diversity index is one of the most important developments in the transgender link with gay and lesbian advocates. The transgender advocacy movement is relatively small compared to the much larger and older gay and lesbian advocacy movement, so this linkage has moved transgender advocacy to a place it could never have achieved on its own.

The HRC Corporate Equality Index grew out of the Gay and Lesbian Values Index (glvIndex), which was created by author Grant Lukenbill and financial adviser Howard Tharsing in 1993. HRC acquired the glvIndex in 2001, renamed it and slightly modified the system. In 2002, it rated major U.S. corporations on their records toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. The 2003 HRC Corporate Equality Index report noted that the initial publication in 2002 sparked strong public interest and caught the attention of corporate executives.

Within a week of its release in August 2002, more than 30 companies called the Human Rights Campaign to inquire about how to obtain a rating or improve the one they had. The level of interest was borne out in the improved response rate to the 2003 survey and in the number of companies that told HRC they would begin implementing the policies measured in the index and plan to respond in 2004. Companies began to cite their HRC Corporate Equality Index scores in advertisements and public forums, and employee groups used the index to drive internal change. This coincided with the growth of private employer transgender HR policies, which experienced a breakthrough in 2001, continued to grow in 2002, and accelerated its growth in 2003.

Most recently, over 100 companies received a perfect score. The website link above allows users to click on the industry heading to see a list of companies as well as their scores on the report, information on their policies and a link to their site. The 2006 survey will close on June 1, 2006 (See "Corporate Equality Index" on the left).

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