Does your company have equality cred?

Rick Rankin

Rick Rankin

LGBT equality and the issues around it are moving faster than ever. For companies that want to show their customers, employees, and the rest of the world that they support equality in the workplace, the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is the gold standard.

But getting ranked is not easy, and scoring a perfect 100 requires serious man—and woman—power. The index ranks more than 40 policies and practices related to LGBT employees at hundreds of leading companies that submit applications, including most of the Fortune 500. How do you not only find what your company needs to apply, but score a perfect 100 and be certified a “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality? Here are our tips for the 2015 application process that starts in March based on our experience applying for the 2014 CEI.

1. Call it like it is. Make sure your company actually supports equality. This seems like a no-brainer, but some companies treat the CEI like a photo shoot—look great for a moment and then back to reality. Your business must have actual policies on a wide range of equality issues and they must be publicly accessible. Your HR and insurance policies must support equality. Anything less will earn you a low score or a dreaded “did not qualify.” Try spinning that in a press release.

How we knew it was right for us: Two of Slalom’s 14 offices had formed chapters of GLASS (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allied Employees Succeeding at Slalom), and there was grassroots interest from other offices in starting their own chapters. We also had a section of our website already devoted to diversity, so it was easy to add info about GLASS and our equality policies. The CEI was a logical next step for us.

2. Get the leadership thumbs up. Applying for the CEI requires access to information across departments and divisions and nothing keeps the process moving faster than support from the top. But before you head for the corner office, be prepared to show the business benefits of getting ranked on the CEI. Don’t forget to mention any key clients and competitors that are highly ranked, too.

How it happened: Even as we’ve grown to more than a couple thousand people, our leaders still have an open door policy and encourage everyone to pitch ideas. Applying for the CEI was already gaining steam when the GM of our New York office brought the idea to John Tobin, our co-founder and president, North America. He encouraged a couple of consultants to look into it and then gave the go ahead to apply. All of this happened over the course of just a few weeks.

3. Divide and conquer. Now that you know your company is the real deal and have leadership support, it’s time to shift into high gear. Form a team, divide up the research, and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are there are many people at your company that are passionate about equality and just waiting to step up. Partner with your HR team and share everything you will need and ask how you can help them make it happen. This isn’t box checking. You’ll need to get into the nitty gritty legalese of insurance and other specific policies. So allow plenty of time and don’t wait until the last minute.

How many people are we talking about here? At least six consultants plus our HR Managing Director worked on various parts of the application over a six-week period. With the large amount of changes happening in 2013 due to health care reform, we opted not to try to adjust our insurance coverage to include transgender benefits. As a result, we scored 90 out of 100. Great for the first time submitting, and next year we will stick the landing and get the perfect 100.

Check out HRC’s CEI webpage, read the 2014 report, and put your company’s strong LGBT equality policies front and center for the world to see.

About rickrankin
Rick is a Managing Director in Slalom's San Francisco Bay Area office where he leads the Business Consulting practice. He also serves on Slalom's National Diversity team, representing LGBT diversity initiatives across the company.

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