By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
WASHINGTON – There is much good news for equal rights supporters in the 2005 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which was released last month.
According to HRC, “More major U.S. corporations scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index in 2005 than in any previous year. A total of 101 companies received the highest rating this year Ñ an 80 percent increase from one year ago, when 56 companies received a perfect score.”
Transgender employees are increasingly receiving protection, too. HRC attributes the marked rise in 100 percent scores “to a sharp increase in gender identity non-discrimination policies.” In addition to providing protection from employment discrimination to LGBT individuals, HRC includes domestic partner benefits, LGBT employee groups, diversity training, marketing or philanthropy to the LGBT community, and absence of anti-gay activities in its criteria for the Index.
According to HRC, “Today, 5.6 million people work at the 101 companies that score 100 percent. In 2002, approximately 690,000 people were employed by the 13 companies that scored 100 percent.”
How Michigan companies fared
Overall, five Michigan companies achieved a perfect 100 percent score in 2005. Two Michigan companies, Daimler Chrysler and Dow Chemical, increased their score to a perfect 100 percent in 2005, while two companies – DTE Energy Co. and Kmart Corp., received a lesser score than they did in 2004. And the company at the bottom of the Michigan 2004 heap, retail chain Meijer, Inc., stayed there with a score of 14, the same score the company earned in 2004.
“It’s good to see that so many Michigan companies are committed to supporting all of their employees,” said Liz Boyd, spokesperson for Governor Jennifer Granholm. “We think that’s a great thing.”
Daimler Chrysler and Dow Chemical achieved perfect scores by adding protection for transgender employees to their corporate policies, while three companies – General Motors, Visteon, and Volkswagen – have stayed at the same score of 86 which they received in 2004 because they have not yet added such protections.
“We support the organizations that have added transgender protection. We see more and more organizations are doing so, and also we feel that the organizations that have not added it yet should take this as a challenge to see if they could step up and add it, too,” said Rachell Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan.
Dan Sturgis, the co-vice president of Pride at Work, offered a guarded note of congratulations to the auto companies for scoring so highly on the Index.
“It’s good to see the Fortune 500 Big Three in here doing this,” he said. “It’s a good step, but we’re not ‘there’ yet…. They need to walk the talk. In the plants, it’s a different story. The policies are good, but getting it out into the nooks and crannies – we’re still doing that.”
As for retail giant Meijer, Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky said that that company’s location in a culturally conservative part of the state is no excuse for a low score.
“Meijer has a huge population of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and customers,” Kosofsky said. “Being based in west Michigan should not deter them from forward-thinking, inclusive policies.”
Michigan companies pass, fail the Index
Here is a list of how Michigan companies fared in this year’s HRC Corporate Equality Index:
Borders Group Inc., Ann Arbor: 100 (Score in 2004: 100).
Daimler Chrysler Corp., Auburn Hills: 100 (Score in 2004: 86). Added protection for transgender employees to its equal employment policy.
Dow Chemical Co., Auburn Hills: 100 (Score in 2004: 86). Added protection for transgender employees to its equal employment policy.
Ford Motor Co., Dearborn: 100 (Score in 2004: 100).
Whirlpool Corp., Benton Harbor: 100 (Score in 2004: 100).
General Motors Corp., Milford: 86 (Score in 2004: 86). Does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy.
Visteon Corp., Dearborn: 86 (Score in 2004: 86). Does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy.
Volkswagen of America Inc., Auburn Hills: 86 (Score in 2004: 86). Does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy.
Delphi, Troy: 71 (Score in 2004: 71). Does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy; does not provide diversity training for employees.
DTE Energy Co., Detroit: 71 (Score in 2004: 86). DTE does not include sexual orientation in its equal employment policy, only its anti-harassment policy.
Kellogg Co., Battle Creek: 71 (Score in 2004: 71). Kellogg does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy, nor does the company provide domestic partner benefits.
Comerica Inc., Detroit: 64 (Score in 2004: NA). Rated for the first time in 2005, Comerica does not market to nor make corporate contributions to the LGBT community. The company does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy, nor does it have an LGBT employee group, though it has indicated that employees would be allowed to form one.
Domino’s Inc., Ann Arbor: 57 (Score in 2004: 50). Added an LGBT-inclusive diversity council. However, while Domino’s does not directly contribute to anti-gay activity, founder Tom Monaghan has contributed heavily to initiatives and organizations that oppose the rights of LGBTs. He is a co-founder of the Thomas More Law Center, which is advocating in court to restrict access to domestic partner benefits under Proposal 2, and in 2001 financed a ballot proposal in Ypsilanti to remove sexual orientation from that cityÕs non-discrimination ordinance.
Howard & Howard Attorneys PC.,: 50 (Score in 2004: 50). Howard & Howard does not market to nor make corporate contributions to the LGBT community. The company does not include transgender employees in its non-discrimination policy, nor does it have an LGBT employee group, but it has indicated that employees would be allowed to form one. The company also does not provide diversity training to employees.
Kmart Corp., Troy: 43 (Score in 2004: 57). In the past year, Kmart clarified that they do not offer diversity training covering either “sexual orientation” or “gender identity/expression.” Kmart has been purchased by Sears, who scored 100 percent on the Index, and will have its company policies reviewed in the next few months.
Lear Corp., Southfield: 43 (Score in 2004: 43). Lear provides diversity training, includes sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, and has not taken part in anti-gay activities. However, the company does not protect transgender employees, does not offer domestic partner benefits, has no LGBT employee group, and neither markets to nor makes contributions to the LGBT community.
The bottom of the heap
Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids: 14 (Score in 2004: 14). The only good thing to be said about Meijer is “they don’t engage, that we know of, in any activity that would undermine the goals of equal rights for GLBT people,” said Jay Smith Brown, HRC’s director for communication strategies. Contact Meijer, Inc., and challenge the company to improve their HRC Corporate Equality rating in 2006. Call toll-free within IL, IN, KY, MI, & OH at 1-800-543-3704, or email the company via its web site at http://www.meijer.com/contact/pcaform.asp.