Yesterday The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released their Corporate Equality Index for 2011. If you’re not familiar with the survey, it “assesses American workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”
We’re happy to report that the Big 4 are perfectly gay friendly which probably surprises no one (or not?). The firms go to great lengths to be inclusive, especially in public eye and a ranking like the HRC’s is a perfect opportunity to call attention to their efforts.
This is the ninth year for the survey and its largest – with 844 companies being rated. Scores are determined based on the following criteria:
Criterion 1a Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation (15 points)
Criterion 1b Provides Diversity Training Covering Sexual Orientation (5 points)
Criterion 2a Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression (15 points)
Criterion 2b Provides Diversity Training Covering Gender Identity OR Has Supportive Gender Transition Guidelines (5 points)
Criterion 2c Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage for at Least One Type of Benefit (5 points)
Criterion 2c+ Offers Transgender-Inclusive Insurance Coverage, Including Surgical Procedures (4 )
Criterion 3a Offers Partner Health Insurance (15 points)
Criterion 3b Offers Partner Dental, Vision, COBRA and Dependent Coverage Benefits (5 points)
Criterion 3c Offers at Least Three Other “Soft” Benefits for Partners (5 points)
Criterion 4 Has Employer-Supported Employee Resource Group OR Firm-Wide Diversity Council (15 points) Would Support ERG if Employees Express Interest (half credit)
Criterion 5 Positively Engages the External LGBT Community (15 points)
Criterion 6 Responsible Citizenship Employers will have 15 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records (-15 points)
Big 4 spin-off Accenture also scored a perfect 100 while Capgemini scored a 60, receiving no points for any of the #2 criteria or criterion 5. We took a quick glance through and didn’t notice any more accounting firms, although McGladrey parent H&R Block is on the list, scoring at 65, missing on criteria 2a, 2c and 5.
This seems like a pretty easy diversity win for most firms. Prohibiting discrimination is a piece of cake (enforcing it is another discussion) while providing training and benefits is simply good business. Likewise, if a company has an “employer-supported resource group” or “diversity council,” engaging the LGBT community should be a natural progression.
Where firms may get tripped up is the “Responsible Citizenship Employers” criterion. “[A] large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish” consists of the following:
Scores on this criterion are based on information that has come to HRC’s attention related to topics including but not limited to: undue influence by a significant shareholder calculated to undermine a business’s employment policies or practices related to its LGBT employees; directing corporate charitable contributions to organizations whose primary mission includes advocacy against LGBT equality; opposing shareholder resolutions reasonably aimed at encouraging the adoption of inclusive workplace policies; revoking inclusive LGBT policies or practices; or engaging in proven practices that are contrary to the business’s written LGBT employment policies.
While it isn’t likely that any firm would fall victim to this, law firm Foley & Lardner was dinged for representing clients that opposed gay marriage even though they provided many services to many LGBT causes.
As much as we don’t like it, bigoted, well-funded nonprofits need professional services and they pay accounting firms lots of money to provide them with services. As of now, the HRC doesn’t seem to be holding that against professional services firms but this is a divisive issue, not matter how you slice it. And until total equality is achieved, the HRC will likely keep a close eye on companies that assist groups it opposes.