slides: The Most and Least Gay-Friendly Fortune 500 Companies in Central Mass.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Another Central Mass. company – Unum, an insurer on the Fortune 500 – did quite well, scoring a respectable 70. The moderate workplace-equality scores range from 46 to 79, and are for businesses that “have taken steps toward a fair-minded workplace.”
Two other Fortune 500s based in Central Mass. fared quite poorly. BJ’s Wholesale Club scored 35 out of 100 while Hanover Insurance earned a score of 15. The lowest workplace-equality scores range from 0 to 45. Erika Hopkins, director of diversity and inclusion at Staples tells GoLocalWorcester, “We are proud of our 100-percent score for [each of] the past three years. … [W]e will continue to focus on LGBT workplace inclusion so we maintain our top rating and enjoy our reputation as being an employer of choice for the LGBT community and its allies.
Asked why Staples believes it is important and necessary to provide workplace inclusion to its LGBT employees, Hopkins responds, “Our LGBT associates and allies are critical to our organization’s success. As with all associates, it is important to Staples to create a work environment where everyone feels valued and respected. In addition to having an Associate Resource Group for the LGBT community and its allies, we also host a National Coming Out Day celebration and participate in several PRIDE events. Our talented associates work with us to be sure we are inclusive employer.”
Several of Staples’ LGBT employees have shared their personal stories in a video posted on It Gets Better site. That site also includes a timeline showing how life has gotten better for LGBT people nationwide over the past three years.
TJX, the site states, has “broadly extended our benefits offerings, granting same-sex domestic-partner benefits and transgender-inclusive benefits to [our employees]. We also include ‘gender identity and expression’ in the company non-discrimination policy and adopted as policy ‘gender-transition guidelines’.”
At Hanover Insurance, spokesman Michael Buckley tells GoLocalWorcester, “As a large employer, we are asked to participate in surveys sponsored by many organizations, on many different topics. We literally get hundreds and hundreds of surveys a year. It's just not practical for us to respond to all of them, and we did not respond to this particular survey. As a result, the Human Rights Campaign's rating was determined without the benefit of any information about our policies and practices. Accordingly, our score on the survey is very misleading and is not in any way reflective of our employment practices. Our score is low because we did not participate, and because it was developed without any knowledge of our policies and practices. In fact, we are confident our policies and practices are fair and reflect well on our organization.”
Hanover, according to Buckley:
• Has been a frontrunner on the issue of providing health insurance to couples in same-sex, committed relationships. Hanover has provided these benefits to our people across the country for nearly 10 years, well ahead of most other employers.
• Is an equal-opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation
• Offers a comprehensive-benefits program that includes equivalent spousal and partner benefits. For instance, Hanover’s “benefits policy” regarding same-sex relationships was written to accommodate the gay and lesbian community, the company offers benefits eligibility for same-sex domestic partnerships, and the company offers equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care
• Offers family-support time for gay couples
• Demonstrates a company-wide commitment to diversity that is clear in our policies, training practices, and learning and development programs
• Is widely recognized as a responsible corporate citizen. We provide a wide range of support to community and nonprofit groups, including those that provide support and services for gay people. For example, our company has supported the Spirit of Justice Awards, a GLAD fundraiser, for several years now
• Continues to be supportive of federal and state legislation that treats all marriages equally
BJs and Unum have yet to respond to GoLocalWorcester phone calls and e-mails regarding their LGBT-friendliness scores.
LGBT inclusion is good for the bottom line
More than ever, consumers are sending a message to businesses that they are watching. They are watching to see if the businesses they patronize understand and honor issues important to them, giving buying power to issues ranging from LGBT inclusiveness to environmental protection.
Corporate social responsibility has become an imperative for a successful business. It is legal in 29 states to fire someone for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. And it is legal in 34 states to can a transgender worker.
With its 2013 Buying for Workplace Equality, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation “hopes to harness that power by providing you with the most accurate review of a business’s workplace policies toward LGBT employees.” The Foundation rates 40 LGBT-related policies, benefits and corporate practices among U.S. businesses with 500 or more employees. All scores in the Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index are based on the same set of criteria.
The passion of LGBT consumers is also strong. Among LGBT adults, 87 percent say they are likely to consider a brand that is known to provide equal workplace benefits for all its employees. Sharing this passion, are three-quarters of this country’s non-LGBT adults.
In addition, according to the Foundation, 71 percent of lesbian and gay people say they “would be likely to remain loyal to a brand that they believe very friendly and supportive of LGBT issues, even if it costs more or is less convenient.”
The 2013 guide features 252 businesses that scored a perfect 100 percent – including Staples and TJX. This also represents a year of firsts:
• A record number of businesses opted into the Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index survey.
• For the first time, a majority of the companies – including hundreds of household brand names – have both sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies.
• For the first time, America’s LGBT community saw unprecedented support from some of its favorite brands backing marriage equality all across the country.
“Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or renovating your home, by supporting businesses that support workplace equality, you send a powerful message that LGBT inclusion is good for the bottom line,” the Foundation states. "We hope that you will use this guide as one component when determining if a business’s social practices make it worthy of your dollars.”
Steven Jones-D'Agostino is chief pilot of Best Rate of Climb: Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media and Radio Production. He also produces and hosts The Business Beat on 90.5 WICN, Jazz Plus for New England. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRDAgostino.
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