Philly companies receive perfect score from HRC
by Angela Thomas
Dec 12, 2013 | 1028 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This week, Human Rights Campaign released its 12th annual Corporate Equality Index — highlighting the top companies in the country for LGBT workplace equality — and this year, three companies in Philadelphia landed a perfect score.

The largest and most successful U.S. employers are invited to participate in the CEI every year and, in 2013, a record 304 businesses achieved a top rating of 100, including Philadelphia’s Dechert LLP, Comcast Corp. and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All three received perfect scores last year as well.

Other Philadelphia companies scored high, with Aramark Corp., Ballard Spahr LLP, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Pepper Hamilton LLP and Saul Ewing LLP all receiving a 90. Duane Morris LLP received an 85 and Pep Boys scored a 65. All of the local companies’ scores were the same as last year.

This year’s CEI saw 1,923 businesses invited to participate, with 734 businesses rated, compared to last year’s 688.

To get a perfect score, businesses were required to meet such criteria as providing equal benefits for same-sex partners and spouses, banning benefits discrimination against transgender employees and their dependents, demonstrating firm-wide competency on LGBT issues and showing a public commitment to the LGBT community.

Ninety-nine percent of CEI-rated employers provided employment protection for sexual orientation and 86 percent provided protection on the basis of gender identity. Eight-two percent had an employee resource group or diversity council that focuses on LGBT issues. Seventy-nine percent reported some form of public engagement with the LGBT community, whether in marketing, advertising, recruitment efforts or contributions to LGBT organizations.

Dechert LLP partner Katherine Burroughs said the firm was proud to have received a perfect score again from HRC.

She said although the firm has always been welcoming to people of all backgrounds, Dechert completed a diversity assessment two years ago that revamped the way the firm addressed diversity within the workplace.

“The firm did a top-to-bottom diversity/inclusion assessment on U.S.-based offices looking at LGBT, women and attorneys of color and out of that developed comprehensive recommendations for addressing diversity issues across those groups,” she said.

Burroughs, the first openly gay partner at Dechert LLP, was the founder of the LGBT affinity group, which was established in 2009, and which was expanded to include the European offices last January. She also served as the co-chair of the firm-wide diversity committee.

Among its equality work, the firm offers health-care coverage specific to transgender employees, has performed LGBT-focused pro-bono work — including the filing of amicus briefs in the Defense of Marriage Act case in the U.S. Supreme Court — and has also done work with Mazzoni Center Legal Services.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP chair Francis M. Milone said the firm is proud of its rating and that the recognition reflects the firm’s commitment to inclusion of the LGBT community.

“Building a diverse staff is a core value at the firm and is part of our broader mission to draw upon the strengths of individuals who represent a variety of viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds,” Milone said. “Our ultimate goal is to create a welcoming environment where individuals of all backgrounds with talent, energy and desire can succeed.”

Klayton Fennell, vice president of government affairs and executive champion of Comcast’s OUT employee resource group, said his agency’s score “reflects that we are an employer and business of choice for the LGBT community thanks to our LGBT-inclusive corporate culture, employee benefits, workforce engagement, community investments and programming and services.”

The HRC has plans to revamp the CEI in 2016 and will be changing the criteria needed to achieve a perfect score. In order to receive a 100, businesses must have sexual-orientation and gender-identity protections in their nondiscrimination policies, both in the U.S. and globally. The HRC will also require that U.S. contractors follow the rules of the company’s existing nondiscrimination policies. Companies will also be required to instate policies to prevent philanthropic giving, on an international level, to non-religious organizations that have a discriminatory policy based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

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