Human Resources and Nonprofits

West Michigan companies earn 'perfect' scores for LGBT equality

December 8, 2016
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Steelcase headquarters
The Grand Rapids headquarters of office furniture maker Steelcase, founded in 1912, five stories and 385,000 square feet. Courtesy Steelcase

Five West Michigan companies have received 100-percent scores for their LGBT-friendly workplace policies.

The annual Corporate Equality Index, or CEI, by the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, Foundation gave the score to major employers in the region: Herman Miller in Zeeland; Kellogg Company in Battle Creek; Steelcase in Grand Rapids; Stryker in Kalamazoo; and Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor.

Walker-based Meijer also made the CEI list with a score of 95, and the Detroit-based law firm Dickinson Wright, which has a Grand Rapids office, received a score of 85.

Corporate cultures

Brian Walker, Herman Miller’s CEO, said Herman Miller is “honored to stand among the growing number of companies who embrace diversity in gender identity, expression and sexual orientation.”

“Our inclusive culture fuels innovation, allows us to better meet the needs of our global customers and makes us a more competitive company,” he said.

Herman Miller has earned a CEI rating of 100 percent for 10 years in a row.

Laurent Bernard, VP of global talent management at Steelcase, which has received a perfect score for the third year in a row, said one of the Steelcase's guiding principals is “choose inclusion.”

“True inclusion goes beyond being an equal opportunity employer — it requires a company take everyday actions to encourage and foster authenticity, building a culture that includes all people,” he said.

Deb Bailey, director of global corporate relations at Steelcase, said Steelcase’s work isn’t done.

“Being a true partner to our people and communities requires constant evaluation and improvement,” she said.

"Record numbers"

HRC said the 2017 CEI shows that the nation’s major companies are “advancing in record numbers vital policies and practices to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.”

This year, 887 companies were officially rated, with a record-breaking 517 businesses earning CEI’s top score of 100, up from 407 in 2016.

That’s a single-year increase of more than 25 percent — the largest jump in the 15-year history of the benchmarking tool, according to HRC.

“The unprecedented expansion of inclusive workplaces across the country and around the globe not only reflects our progress, it helps drive it, said Chad Griffin, president, HRC.

Griffin added that despite "relentless attempts to undermine equality,” America’s leading companies “remain steadfast and committed” to supporting and defending the “rights and dignity” of LGBT people.

“As we enter a new chapter in our fight for equality, support from the business community will be more critical than ever to protect our historic advancements over the last decade and to continue to push equality forward for workers, customers and families around the world,” he said.

Methodology

The CEI rates companies on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories: non-discrimination policies; employment benefits; demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion; public commitment to LGBT equality; and responsible citizenship.

Last year, the CEI expanded its benchmarks for inclusion to include global policies, recognizing the worldwide impact of many Fortune 500 companies.

Washington, D.C.-based HRC said the “community has responded,” and this year, 92 percent of CEI-rated companies include both sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections that apply to workers domestically and internationally.

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