LGBT-activists often portray themselves as a poor, oppressed minority that must be protected from discrimination and bigotry because of their internal sense of “gender identity” or their sexual identity, behavior and feelings.

But a new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) demonstrates that gay- and transgender-identified individuals are not facing widespread discrimination – at least from corporate America and top legal firms. In fact, hundreds of businesses and law firms across the nation implement all of HRC’s required “LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices” that privilege LGBT-identified folks.

HRC, the largest gay- and transgender-activist organization in the world, published its “Corporate Equality Index 2021” (CEI), which rates workplaces on “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equality.” The 19th annual CEI reports, “767 businesses met all the criteria to earn a 100 percent rating and the designation of being a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.’”

In 2002, with much less stringent requirements, the first CEI reported only 13 top-rated companies. HRC has upped the ante several times since this initial report, creating more difficult standards. It is no longer enough to be nondiscriminatory; corporations must affirm, support and celebrate homosexuality and transgenderism.

Every year, HRC invites all the companies from Fortune magazine’s list of 1,000 publicly-traded businesses and American Lawyer’s top 200 revenue-grossing law firms to participate in its survey. Private companies with 500 or more U.S. employees can also request to participate. This year’s CEI includes 1,142 officially-rated businesses, using company-reported surveys, tax filings and reports from employees.

The list of companies that received 100% includes just about every major business you can think of, from AT&T to Verizon, and from Kroger to Walmart.

HRC has four categories for grading businesses and law firms. First, companies must have workforce protections that include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.”

Second, businesses must have “inclusive benefits,” offering health and other benefits for same-sex and opposite sex spouses and domestic partners. Employers must also provide health coverage for transgender individuals without any exclusions.

The third category has a lengthy list of demands that must be met to win that coveted 100% from HRC.

Companies must support an “inclusive culture” and must practice “corporate social responsibility.” It’s not enough to simply hire LGBT-identified individuals, supervisors must undergo training that “includes gender identity and sexual orientation as discrete topics” and “provides definitions or scenarios illustrating the policy for each.” Any company leadership training must also include “elements of diversity and/or cultural competency.”

Firms must have “gender transition guidelines with supportive restroom, dress code and documentation guidance.” They must conduct “anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys” and “allow employees the option to identify as LGBTQ.” They are required to collect data that includes employee race, ethnicity, gender, military and disability” and “include optional questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Employers must have an LGBTQ employee group or a “diversity council” and meet at least three of these requirements:

  • Actively recruit LGBTQ employees,
  • Engage in a “demonstrated effort to include certified LGBTQ suppliers,”
  • Market products and advertise to LGBTQ-identified folks,
  • Support at least one LGBTQ organization, and/or,
  • Publicly support “LGBTQ equality under the law through local, state or federal legislation or initiatives”

Employers must also demonstrate “LGBTQ Corporate Social Responsibility” by having “Contractor/supplier nondiscrimination standards AND Philanthropic Giving Guidelines.”

Under criterion 4, “Employers will have 25 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBTQ blemish on their recent records” (their emphasis). Companies that donate to pro-family, pro-traditional marriage politicians or organizations could be targeted for doing so.

HRC is moving beyond the United States to influence companies around the globe. In recent years, it launched similar initiatives in Mexico and Chile. Again, those efforts seek to offer protections based on a person’s internal beliefs about their “gender” or on an individual’s sexual attractions and behaviors.

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Photo from HRC