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Three Del. companies get perfect scores for LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces

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Three of the six Delaware-based companies that were ranked on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index scored a perfect 100 on the benchmark tool that’s used to evaluate companies nationally on their policies that help create an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ employees.

AstraZeneca, DuPont, and Highmark Delaware each receive the maximum score, while Navient scored 90, Chemours scored 80, and Sallie Mae scored 55.

Companies were judged on three key points:

  • Non-discrimination policies across business entities
  • Equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families,
  • Supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.

Many companies highlighted the existence of “business resource groups” as a key part of their efforts to promote inclusivity within the workplace.

“We launched our LGBTQ Business Resource Group in 2008, which serves as [a] resource and partner to our business, enhancing our capabilities and knowledge in workforce inclusivity and marketplace excellence, and helps our business connect with the communities we serve,” said Denee Crumrine, corporate communications manager for Highmark Delaware.

Crumrine pointed to practices that contributed to its score, including equivalent spousal and domestic partner benefits related to health, dental and vision coverage, and legal dependent coverage; transgender-inclusive benefits and workplace transition guidelines, yearly collaboration with human resources to educate leaders and the workforce about understanding the LGBTQ community; and sponsorship of community activities that engage and include LGBTQ employees and that continue to build community partnerships.”

Generally speaking, companies that do well on the Equality Index offer equal spousal and domestic partner benefits to their employees no matter their sexuality, gender identity, etc., benefits that are inclusive of those who are transgender, and enforcing policies that do not allow companies to discriminate against their current or prospective employees.

Sallie Mae said it focuses on implementing policies that protect current and prospective employees from discrimination while also “[providing] the competitive benefits offerings to all classes of benefit-eligible employees and coverage includes same-sex spouse and same-sex domestic partnerships.” The company did not specify if coverage extended to those of a different gender identity.

But Sallie Mae did say it would “release [its] first corporate social responsibility report later this year, which addresses diversity and inclusivity, and will further show our commitment to providing a safe, welcoming, and trusted workplace for employees to thrive.”

According to Navient spokesperson Paul Hartwick, the company has made advances in recent years in relation to items considered by the Corporate Equality Index. “We have: ensured our anti-discrimination policies and training work to create a safe and inclusive environment for all people regardless of gender and sexual orientation, ensured health care coverage benefits for employees and family members are inclusive regardless of gender and sexual orientation,  explicitly stated non-discrimination policies for philanthropic grant making and joined the Business Coalition for the Equality Act to support federal legislation that would provide the same basic protections to LGBTQ people as are provided to other protected groups under federal law.”

As a whole, Delaware’s score on the Equality Index was above average, according to Elliot Kozuch, the press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.

“The average score for companies and law firms based in Delaware is 88%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 83%,” they said.

At its core, though, the companies that did well on the HRC index view that as more an affirmation of their efforts rather than the reason they were doing it.

Following the creation of the new DuPont in June 2019, the company re-launched and branded its LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group as DuPont PRIDE, said spokesman Dan Turner who said “this sent a strong and powerful signal to our employees and other stakeholders that being a LGBTQ friendly work environment was a priority for the new company.” 

Turner added that DuPont “raised its rainbow flag outside and publicly visible at key locations, including our corporate headquarter location in Wilmington [last June] as a signal to employees and those in our communities that DuPont stands behind and with the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, rainbow colored lanyards are being worn across DuPont and are a visible symbol from allies that they support the LGBTQ+ community.  This was part of a DuPont PRIDE Employee Resource Group initiative to increase visible support for LGBTQ+ employees.”

“It’s simply a matter of Respect for People, which is one of our DuPont Core Values,” Turner said. “This recognition is the way we live and demonstrate this core value every day. At DuPont, we work to create and foster a work environment where we encourage every employee to feel accepted, inclusive, and free to bring their whole self to work. But we don’t want to stop there, DuPont aims to keep raising the bar on standards for company policies.”

Abby Osborne
Contributing Writer

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