- A record number of employers — 767 companies — earned the Human Rights Campaigns' (HRC) top score for LGBTQ equality, it announced in its annual report Jan. 28. Target, Wendy's, Airbnb, Buzzfeed and many other household names appeared on the 2021 list.
- The review focused on four pillars, HRC said: non-discrimination policies; equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families; support for an inclusive culture; and corporate social responsibility.
- HRC noted "considerable progress" with respect to transgender-inclusive initiatives: 94% percent of the Fortune 500 and 99.7% of all rated businesses have gender identity protections in their nondiscrimination policies. And 71% of the Fortune 500 and 91% of all rated businesses offer transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage. Both stats represent significant increases since HRC launched its index in 2002.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, answering a long-standing employment law question.
The ruling brought clarity, although some employers had already included such factors in nondiscrimination policies. Still, others were advised to make changes: "If your employment policies do not currently provide for nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, you should update them to explicitly list those categories," JoLynn Markison, now senior associate general counsel for UnitedHealth Group, said at the time. "While LGBTQ employees will now receive protection based on 'sex' regardless of employer policies, expanding your policy to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity is not only the right thing to do, but it will provide evidence that your company intends to comply with Title VII's protection of 'sex' in its totality."
And while that ruling likely drove more employers to amend policies, employment law attorneys generally say more is needed: They recommend that HR follow through with training and enforcement. Managers, in particular, should be trained to spot all types of harassment and escalate it to HR for investigation, experts say.
HR also can lead efforts to adopt gender transition processes to support employees who transition during their employment. As an HR business partner for PayPal previously told HR Dive, procedures for name changes and other factors can go a long way toward maintaining an inclusive culture.