Diversity September 14, 2009

Alston & Bird Tops Corporate Equality Index for Fifth Straight Year

Alston & Bird  has received a top rating of 100 percent from the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) eighth annual Corporate Equality Index. This is the fifth year in a row that Alston & Bird has received HRC’s perfect rating.

The report, released on Sept. 14, shows that a record number of the largest U.S. companies are increasingly competing to expand benefits and protections for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) employees and customers. An unprecedented 305 major U.S. companies earned the top rating of 100 percent, which is a sizeable increase from the 13 companies when the Index was first released in 2002. In 2006, the first year law firms were invited to participate in the CEI, Alston & Bird was one of only 12 firms to lead the industry and achieve a score of 100 percent. This year, 88 firms received perfect scores, eclipsing every other industry represented in the survey.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve GLBT equality with more than 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that GLBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

“Alston & Bird is proud to once again be recognized by CEI as a leader in providing benefits, opportunities and protections for the GLBT community,” said Richard Hays, Alston & Bird’s managing partner. “We are committed to making our work environment ideal and this designation, in addition to the ongoing accolades from FORTUNE magazine and the Great Place to Work Institute, prove we are achieving our goals.”

“Even in an economic environment that has presented new challenges for lawyers in private practice, the nation’s largest and most prestigious law firms have only stepped up their commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse group of attorneys and staff,” said HRC Foundation President Joe Solmonese. “Legal work in this country is deeply rooted in our nation’s core values of equality and justice for all, and law firms continue to set the gold standard for treating their LGBT employees fairly.”

Among the companies surveyed in the new report, this year:

  • 66 major employers — including eight of the Fortune 20 and seventeen AmLaw 200 firms — now provide transgender-inclusive health insurance.
  • 72 percent of CEI-rated employers now prohibit discrimination based on gender identify or expression, an 11 percent increase over last year.
  • The majority of companies rated – 99 percent – offer employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • 81 percent of CEI-rated businesses include “sexual orientation” in their anti-harassment policies.
  • 123 of the 268 Fortune 500-ranked businesses received perfect scores. The average rating of Fortune 500 companies was 83 percent.

About the Corporate Equality Index
The analysis released on September 14 covers 305 businesses and measures the extent to which employers protect their GLBT employees. Ratings are based on factors like non-discrimination policies, diversity training and benefits for domestic partners and transgender employees. The report includes surveys from Fortune 1000, Standard & Poor’s 500, Forbes’ list of the 200 largest privately held firms, the American Lawyer 100, and any other companies with 500 or more employees that requested a rating or for which HRC had sufficient data to derive a score. The 2010 HRC Corporate Equality Index rated companies on a scale of 0 percent to 100 percent on several factors, including whether they have a written non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation; support transgender employees with written non-discrimination policies and benefits; offer inclusive health insurance, bereavement, and family leave policies to employees with same-sex partners; offer diversity training; have GLBT employee groups; engage in appropriate and respectful advertising to the GLBT community; contribute to GLBT community organizations; and decline to engage in any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A copy of the report and all ratings can be found at http://www.hrc.org/cei.

Media Contact
Nicholas Clarke
Senior Communications Manager
Phone: 212.210.1222
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