Corporate Equality Index
The Corporate Equality Index is a report published by the Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest LGBT advocacy group and lobbying organization; according to the HRC, it has more than one million members and supporters...

 Foundation as a tool to rate American businesses on their treatment of gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

, lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

, bisexual and transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 employees, consumers and investors. Its primary source of data are surveys but researchers cross-check business policy and their implications for LGBT workers and public records independently. The index has been published annually since 2002.


The Corporate Equality Index chooses companies to rank, and rates them on a scale of 0 to 100 based on flexible criteria grounded in the "10 principles" of the Equality Project. These include
  • A written policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation
    Sexual orientation
    Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

    , gender identity
    Gender identity
    A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

     and gender expression.
  • Inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in its diversity and sensitivity training.
  • Parity in domestic partner benefits required by certain laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act
    Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
    The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. These reasons include personal or family illness, military service, family military leave, pregnancy,...

  • Appropriate and respectful advertising to the LGBT community.
  • Transgender-inclusive health insurance benefits.
  • Rejection of any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for LGBT people.


Since 2002, the Corporate Equality Index has been published by the Human Rights Campaign. It was originally modeled after the Gay and Lesbian Values Index, a rating system that was designed by journalist Grant Lukenbill. When the HRC modified it, it became a 100-point system, as opposed to Grant's 10-point one. In its first year, the Corporate Equality Index awarded its 100 percent rating to 13 businesses.
Each year, there has been an increase in the number of businesses that achieve this rating. In the 2011 index, 337 companies received the 100 percent rating.
The criteria for the index has changed since its first publication. Beginning in 2006, transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 rights issues became more imperative to the index than they had previously been; consequently, the 2012 index will include more updated criteria regarding benefits of partnerships
Domestic partnership
A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union...

 and transgender inclusivity.

Effects on Corporate America

There are competing opinions about the effect that a company's rating has on its business. Some say that having a high rating will have a positive impact, while others say that it will cause a company to lose popularity among conservative
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 customers. A study in Colorado showed that having a good rating in the CEI does not harm a company's stocks
Stocks are devices used in the medieval and colonial American times as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. The stocks partially immobilized its victims and they were often exposed in a public place such as the site of a market to the scorn of those who passed by...

. The index also encourages companies to change their policies regarding LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 employees, and in many cases accomplishes this goal. From 2004 to 2005, 92 percent of the corporations listed included transgender discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 protection where they previously had not. Additionally, many companies are pressured to change policies that have earned them a poor score on the index, due to bad press. This has led to a competitive atmosphere among businesses to stay current in the latest LGBT-related inclusive policies. Larger corporations are much more likely to change LGBT-related policies as a result of the index than small or medium companies are. The Human Rights Campaign focuses on larger companies in the CEI, so smaller businesses are subject to little public backlash due to the efforts of the Human Rights Campaign and the index.


Since its beginning in 2002, the Corporate Equality Index has had a financial effect on the businesses included in its ratings system. In 2007, the Human Rights Campaign introduced a mobile guide for consumers, allowing anyone to see a company's rating before choosing whether to do business with it, simply by texting
Text messaging
Text messaging, or texting, refers to the exchange of brief written text messages between fixed-line phone or mobile phone and fixed or portable devices over a network...

 the company's name to the index's short code
Short code
Short codes are special telephone numbers, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers, that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from certain service provider's mobile phones or fixed phones...

, receiving an immediate response.

External links

Download PDF versions of the report:
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