I could tell that HRC's Corporate Equality Index, which ranks LGBT worker friendliness of major corporations based on a questionnaire, was out because I got a bunch of press releases from corporations with subject lines bragging about how LGBT friendly they are. I had to go to HRC's site to get the full scoop.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation today released the seventh annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates 583 businesses on a scale from 0 to 100 percent on their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. The 2009 edition of the CEI reports 259 businesses achieved a perfect score, a one-third increase over last year when the number was 195. The 259 top-rated businesses collectively employ more than 9 million full-time employees. These workers are protected from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression because of their employers' policies on diversity & inclusion, training, health care, and domestic partnership benefits.
I've already written about my skepticism when it comes to the CEI. It doesn't find out how LGBT employees are being treated - it simply asks HR directors what the company's official policies are. There's a huge difference.
A friend of mine tried to get the domestic partnership insurance benefits from his partner's employer (CEI 100) but he was never able to get them. The corporation simply denied that they were in a relationship that would qualify, even after they had lived together for several years.
Monica Helms worked for a company (CEI 100) that wouldn't pay for
SRS because it was "cosmetic," even though paying for SRS is part of the CEI (turns out that the real standards are much lower). (K, Monica corrected me in the comments. It was not SRS, but an orchie.)
I personally worked for a business that had a non-discrimination policy. I was harassed, threatened, and then sent on my way when my contract ended. I received the highest evaluation of all the people who worked there for the one evaluation period I was there for, but they renewed everyone's contract (including a few people who lied on their job applications, harmed children on the job, and didn't show up to work regularly) except for mine.
While that business wasn't rated by the CEI, if asked if they had a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation, they would have said yes. And they would have gotten the points for that response. But it sure didn't feel like that policy was in place. (Since I worked there the business went under and the land and buildings were bought up by a much friendlier competitor. Karma's a bitch.)
I could go on, but the point is that just because a business says they don't discriminate doesn't mean that they don't, in fact, discriminate. And a useful tool for the LGBT community would survey (anonymously) the people who work for a corporation as well as examine corporate policy.
Of course, that'd be expensive and time-consuming and it isn't really the goal of the CEI, which is one big advertising campaign for HRC. But we should be skeptical and take this Index with a grain of salt - asking oppressors if they're oppressive doesn't lead to the truth.
On another note, they're saying that the question related to SRS has improved over last year:
Since 2006, CEI participants have been asked to ensure that at least one of five types of medically necessary treatment was available to transgender employees without exclusion. For the first time this year, the CEI contains a more detailed review of documentation that businesses submitted in order to determine whether a broader range of medically necessary treatments would be covered by an insurance plan. In the section entitled "Ending Benefits Discrimination against Transgender Employees," the HRC Foundation found that 49 businesses have taken significant and substantial steps to remove discrimination from at least one of their health insurance plans. These businesses are highlighted in the report's appendices.
I know next to nothing about this topic, so I look forward to reading what others have to say about this change.