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What is the Corporate Equality Index?

First established in 2002, the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a benchmarking tool for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion and annually measures “policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) employees,” according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. With Pride Month upon us, let’s dive into how you can use the Corporate Equality Index in your reporting as well as locate other LGBTQ+-friendly resources.

Why does the CEI exist in the first place?

In a 2023 survey by Glassdoor, a little under half of the employed LGBTQ+ Americans surveyed reported they felt being “out” at work would negatively affect their careers, with over half reporting that they had experienced anti-LGBTQ+ comments in the past. 

The CEI is meant to measure the extent to which U.S. companies have implemented policies and resources to support their LGBTQ+ employees. The goal here is not the surface-level rainbow washing that has become infamous in recent years but rather identifying the actual concrete actions businesses have taken to make work a safe, supportive space for LGBTQ+ individuals day in and day out. 

As shared in a message from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s President Kelley Robinson, “This report is more than a set of scores. It’s a roadmap for ensuring that every LGBTQ+ individual has a fair chance to succeed in the workplace, backed by policies and practices that recognize their worth and dignity.”

Evaluating employers’ commitment to workplace equality

Across measures of a company’s policies, including nondiscrimination, corporate social responsibility, and spousal and domestic partner benefits, the average 2023-2024 CEI score was 86/100 for the 378 Fortune 500 businesses that chose to participate. In comparison, the Fortune 500 non-responders had an average score of 4/100 for what was known regarding their policies and benefits. Of the 1,384 businesses that responded overall, 545 received a top score of 100, possibly indicating that companies are more likely to participate in the CEI if they have LGBTQ+-friendly policies already in place.

The report shares highlights, scorecards, and the criteria breakdown, making it a great resource for those who want to learn how businesses in their local area – or nationally – are supporting LGBTQ+ employees and the broader community.

In addition to creating a more positive, inclusive workspace for employees, there is evidence that LGBTQ+-friendly policies can lead to improved financial performance for companies. This presents a unique angle for journalists to go beyond articulating implemented policies by diving deeper into the impact of those policies on employees and employers.

Additional resources

Author

  • Aryn Kodet

    Aryn Kodet is responsible for managing The Reynolds Center’s social-media strategy and outreach to the broader community of business journalism professionals. Born and raised in Arizona, Aryn Kodet is a graduate of Arizona State University and Barret...

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