U.S. and Georgia companies improving LGBT policies

By Maria Saporta

The president of the Human Rights Campaign – Chad Griffin – came to Atlanta Wednesday to highlight U.S. companies with the best records of inclusion for the LGBT community.

In Georgia, 13 companies reached a perfect score of 100 in the 2016 Corporate Equality Index assessing inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. There were only 11 Georgia companies with a perfect score a year ago.

Chad Griffin

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin speaks at the organization’s release of results of their annual LGBT Corporate Equality Index in Atlanta (Photo by (John Amis/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)

Those 13 companies were: Alston & Bird LLP; the Coca-Cola Co.; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; First Data Corp.; the Home Depot; InterContinental Hotels Group Americas; Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; King & Spalding LLP; NCR Corp.; Newell Rubbermaid Inc.; SunTrust Banks Inc.; Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP; and Troutman Sanders LLP.

Three companies scored a grade of 90: Cox Enterprises Inc.; Delta Air Lines Inc.; and United Parcel Service Inc. And one Atlanta company scored a grade of 85: the Southern Co.

“Corporate America has long been a leader on LGBT equality, from advocating for marriage equality to expanding essential benefits to transgender employees,”  Griffin said in a statement. “But this year, many leading U.S. companies have broken new ground by expanding explicit non-discrimination protections to their LGBT workers around the globe. They’ve shown the world that LGBT equality isn’t an issue that stops at our own borders, but extends internationally.”

Griffin released the national LGBT Index at a Wednesday morning briefing at the Commerce Club.

Among the people who participated during the program were:

* Moanica Caston, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion for Georgia Power;

* Renae M Murphy, Lockheed-Martin’s Corporate Diversity and Inclusion consultant;

* Robin Joy Shahar, LGBT advisor for the City of Atlanta

* Greg Tahvonen, Delta Air Lines vice president of Total Reward and Global Human Resources; and

* Racquel White, vice president of Global Communications for Newell Rubbermaid.

Human Rights Campaign

Georgia companies on the 2016 HRC Corporate Equality Index

At the press briefing, the Human Rights Campaign released the 2016 Corporate Equality Index of 851 businesses – companies and law firms – in the United States, including a total of 24 in Georgia.

The 14th annual Corporate Equality Index unveiled that a record of 407 businesses earned a top score of 100 percent and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

That record  number of perfect scores was achieved despite demanding new criteria requiring that companies with global operations extend non-discrimination protections for their LGBT workers worldwide.

Key national findings contained in the 2016 report:

* 407 companies earned a 100 percent in the 2016 Index, up from 366 in the 2015 report.

* 511 companies participating in this year’s Index now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage. That’s a 150 percent increase since 2012, when the Index first included trans-inclusive health care as a requisite for companies to receive a perfect score;

*   Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002;

*   More than 330 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.

*   And 176 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.

HRC Corporate Equality Index

Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index

The average score for companies and law firms based in Georgia is 82 percent. The other seven Georgia businesses included in the 2016 Index scoring 75 or less were:

AFLAC (75); AGL Resources (70); Invesco (65); EarthLink Inc. (40); Chamberlin Edmonds & Associates Inc. (30); Mirant Corp. (20) and Mohawk Industries (15).

Griffin said the Campaign has witnessed the breaking of new ground in workplace equality based the LGBT community. Those include enacting LGBT non-discrimination policies to extending same-sex partner benefits. The Human Rights Campaign also has helped companies move toward full inclusion for their transgender employees.

The annual Index rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:

* Non-discrimination policies

* Employment benefits

* Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion

* Public commitment to LGBT equality

* Responsible citizenship

The full report, including a searchable employer database is available online by clicking here.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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