More Companies "Ace" Gay Rights Survey

August 25, 2003 ( - Nearly twice as many US companies have barred discrimination based on sexual orientation and adopted other gay-and lesbian-friendly policies than last year, according to a new gay-rights group survey.

According to the Human Right Campaign, 21 companies got a perfect score on its “Corporate Equality Index” measuring the workplace treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers – almost twice as many as last year, Reuters reported. Corporations scoring 100 included Aetna Inc., Bank One Corp., Intel Corp., Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., and Nike Inc.

“The bottom line is that successful businesses are increasingly recognizing that equality works,” Kim Mills, the group’s education director, said in a statement.

The survey showed that 95% of responding companies had written policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, up slightly from 93% a year ago. Some 70% provided domestic partner health insurance, up from 67% last year (See Partnering Up ).

Each company was rated on a scale of zero to 100 on seven factors. They included whether the companies had written anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation, provided health insurance for employees’ same-sex domestic partners and held diversity training.

Among the five lowest-ranked companies, with a score of 14, were Exxon Mobil Corp. whose shareholders repeatedly have voted down proposals calling for the company to explicitly oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians, and Domino’s Inc. Representatives of both companies told Reuters that they have rules against any discrimination or harassment.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. known for its conservative values, upped its rating to 43 after broadening its non-discrimination policy to cover sexual orientation and after instituting diversity training (See Wal-Mart Adds Discrimination Protections For Gays, Lesbians ). The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, part of CBRL Group jumped from zero last year to 29 after it dropped its opposition to a shareholder proposal asking the company to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy and later adopted the policy.

The group’s survey covered 250 companies from either the Fortune 500 or the Forbes 200.