HRC rated 590 businesses, evaluating employment policies, benefits programs and workplace safety as related to LGBT employees. HRC invites companies featured in Fortune magazine’s 100 largest publicly traded businesses list and American Lawyer magazine’s slate of top 200 revenue-grossing law firms to participate.
The average rating was 86, up three percentage points over last year.
This year, 305 organizations received perfect scores — a 45-percent increase over last year and the largest number of companies to garner the top spot ever since HRC instituted the CEI in 2002.
Locally, four companies, all law firms, received ratings of 100 in the CEI: Duane Morris; Ballard, Spahr; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Pepper Hamilton.
This is the first time that each of the organizations received perfect scores; last year, Ballard, Spahr and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius scored 80, while Pepper Hamilton came in at 90 and Duane Morris was at 95.
HRC employs a list of criteria that companies must meet to raise their scores, and since the release of last year’s CEI, the first two firms extended their nondiscrimination policies to cover gender identity or expression and also incorporated issues of gender identity into diversity training programs. Pepper Hamilton heightened its rating by implementing diversity training that addresses both sexual orientation and gender identity, and Duane Morris extended its health-insurance coverage to offer benefits specific to transgender individuals.
Another local law firm, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, achieved a 95, but couldn’t hit the top mark because its diversity-training program doesn’t cover gender identity.
John Byrne, communications director at the firm, said the organization is interested in expanding its training to include this.
“This is something we’re definitely looking into, and we imagine that by next year’s survey, this will have been addressed,” he said.
HRC rated firm Saul Ewing a 68. The company lost points for not employing a nondiscrimination policy or diversity training inclusive of gender identity, and for not providing dental, vision, COBRA or dependent benefits for same-sex partners.
Candace Toll-Aaron, co-chair of Saul Ewing’s diversity committee, said that it was “very disheartening” for the company to receive this score two years running.
Toll-Aaron recently took over the diversity committee and said she and other committee leaders are planning to press for the expansion of the company’s LGBT policies, many of which have yet to be formalized.
“There’s a new leadership regime on the diversity committee that just crystallized at the firm, and we’ve made it a priority to address the needs and concerns of LGBT lawyers,” she said. “I can’t say what the new policies will exactly look like, but we are in the process of updating our relevant firm policies. We really look forward to a much higher score next year.”
Other local companies featured in the CEI include health-insurance corporation CIGNA, which scored a 95, the same as last year. CIGNA does not offer any insurance benefits specifically for transgender employees.
Comcast Corporation also scored 95, up from last year’s rating of 80; since last year, the company has instituted a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of gender identity. Like CIGNA, Comcast does not offer benefits related to sex-reassignment surgeries.
“We are always looking to ensure that our benefits are fair, competitive and sustainable,” said Comcast spokesperon John Demming. “As new issues or needs arise among our employees, or as we see them arising in the marketplace and with other employers, we are always reevaluating how we invest our benefit dollars.”
HRC rated food supplier Aramark at 75; the company does not include gender identity in its diversity training or nondiscrimination policy, and also doesn’t offer transgender-specific benefits.
Aramark spokesperson Nicole Kennedy said the company strives to be “a place where the best people want to work” and accordingly is “always looking to improve the workplace environment” for its 260,000 global employees.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.