America's top law firms continue to set gold standard for LGBT inclusion

The nation’s top law firms continue to set the standard for LGBT workplace inclusion, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.

This year, participation in the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) increased to 156 law firms, representing a majority of the American Lawyer publication’s list of the nation’s 200 top-grossing firms. The CEI, begun in 2002, began rating law firms in 2006.

A record 407 businesses nationwide earned 100-point scores in the 2016 CEI, including 95 law firms — the industry with the highest number of perfect scores. An additional 20 law firms scored 90 or 95 points. A full list of law firms earning perfect scores can be found here. 

“The legal field continues to distinguish itself as the sector with the most top-rated employers, consistently demonstrating a strong commitment to workplace equality,” said Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program. “We began surveying the AmLaw 200 as part of the CEI seven years ago, and the legal field quickly rose to the top ranks of inclusive companies. We are inspired by the example law firms are setting as among the best places to work for LGBT equality.”

The CEI rates law firms on 40 specific practices and policies. To earn a perfect score, firms must have fully-inclusive non-discrimination policies, provide parity in benefits for spouses and partners, provide transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, demonstrate LGBT competency and responsible citizenship, provide verifiable evidence of their public commitment to equality, and implement internal guidelines prohibiting philanthropic giving to organizations that discriminate against LGBT people.

“Our nation’s top companies continue to rise to the challenge of creating workplaces that are fully LGBT-inclusive,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This year’s CEI demonstrates yet again that America’s most successful companies continue to set the standard for inclusion, and understand that the fight for LGBT equality is a global endeavor, to be pursued with resolve and urgency.”

This year, demanding new global criteria also required that top-scoring firms extend fully-inclusive non-discrimination policies to their workers worldwide.

The purpose of the CEI, which this year had 851 companies actively participating, is also to encourage small- and medium-sized companies, as well as state and municipal governments, to increase workplace acceptance by extending similar inclusive benefits and protections to LGBT employees.

The CEI 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 is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.
 

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