More of Fortune 500 offer same-sex benefits

Celebrating the Supreme Court's DOMA decision earlier this year. Photo: AP Celebrating the Supreme Court's DOMA decision earlier this year. Photo: AP

The LGBT community is definitely feeling the love from Corporate America.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in issuing its latest Corporate Equality Index this week, said that more Fortune 500 companies than ever implemented inclusive workplace non-discrimination policies in 2013.

Ninety-one percent of the Fortune 500 (vs. 88 percent last year) provided explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation, while 61 percent (vs. 57 percent last year) did so on the basis of gender identity, a historic high, the Washington, D.C.-based group said.

Another 67 percent offered same-sex partner benefits, another record, it said. 

Moreover, in just the past four years, the number of major employers covering medically necessary sex reassignment surgery for employees has gone from 49 to 340, including 28 percent of the Fortune 500.

Also, it said, more than 260 major employers have implemented more robust and supportive inclusion guidelines for their transitioning employees.

The index rates companies on 40 policies and practices. A total of 931 businesses were rated in the 2014 CEI, including the entire Fortune 500.  

In the first index 12 years ago, 13 businesses earned a 100 percent. That number has grown to 304 today.   

“Corporate America has long recognized the imperative of LGBT inclusion by implementing their own LGBT-friendly policies ahead of lawmakers,” Workplace Equality Program Director Deena Fidas said in a news release. “We are at the front of a new era in which major businesses are not only meeting ever-higher new bars for workplace fairness, they are exceeding them by becoming social and public policy change agents in the process. They recognize equality is not just the right thing to do, it is sound business practice.”

Amid the positive news, the organization pointed out many of America’s top companies, particularly from the oil and gas, mining and manufacturing industries remain “conspicuously absent from this movement toward equality.”

Still, the year, overall, was historic, according to the organization.

“This will go down in history as the year that corporate support for equality left the boardroom and reached each and every corner of this country,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Not only do fair-minded companies guarantee fair treatment to millions of LGBT employees in all 50 states, but now those same companies are fighting for full legal equality in state legislatures, in the halls of Congress and before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

This year, among other actions, hundreds of major businesses signed onto amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.  

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