The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) list of LGBT-friendly businesses is long and quickly growing—almost 300 Fortune 500 businesses offer workplaces with insurance, employment, and retirement policies friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered workers. When HRC first released the Corporate Equality Index a decade ago, only 13 businesses made the list.
“The numbers are irrefutable: The more successful a business is in the United States, the more likely it is to embrace equality,” HRC’s president Chad Griffin wrote in a letter accompanying the project.
But Rob Schwarzwalder, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, believes that LGBT-friendly companies miss a bigger picture in light of current profit: “Companies that actively and openly affirm homosexuality as a valid choice of life and behavior are failing to recognize the toll that homosexual unions will take on society if they become fully legitimated. They are, in my view, looking for social acceptance and quick profit ahead of principle.”
Of the country’s top 20 businesses, 13 received perfect scores from HRC, meaning they offer homosexual and transgender protection policies, equal spousal and insurance benefits to married homosexuals, training for employees on LGBT issues, and public support for LGBT groups. Chevron, Fortune’s no. 3 company, topped the list of LGBT-inclusive companies, with General Motors, Bank of America, Ford Motor Co., and AT&T following closely behind.
Still, not all companies have jumped on the rainbow train. Both Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil, Fortune’s top two companies, got less-than-perfect scores. Exxon Mobil received a negative 25 for supporting conservative groups that oppose homosexuality. The only company in the survey that received a score less than zero, the oil company doesn’t promote any of the provisions listed in the survey, retaining its right to deny employee benefits to homosexual partners.
Other companies such as Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby have taken public stances on conservative issues such as traditional marriage or the federal government’s contraceptive mandate. Schwarzwalder said he wasn’t sure what effects that will have on those companies’ futures: “Exxon, Interstate Batteries, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, and a handful of other companies have basically said, ‘No, we’re not going to buckle.’ Whether or not that becomes something of an economic difficulty for them we don’t know.”
But, increased pressure on conservative shoppers may produce more events like the Chick-fil-A appreciation day, he added: “You might see a backlash that goes quite the other way, where people of Christian faith come forward and say, … ‘We’re going to stand with companies that represent our values.’”