Kentucky companies receive high LGBT equality ratings

By on December 4, 2014

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, recently released its Corporate Equality Index, which assesses the climate of and benefits afforded to LGBT employees. Four Kentucky companies were ranked in the 2015 index.

There are five criteria upon which companies are ranked:

  • Its equal employment opportunity policy includes both sexual orientation and gender identity expression
  • It offers equivalent spousal benefits to same-sex partners, as well as transgender-inclusive health insurance
  • It offers inclusivity training to employees and has a diversity council for LGBT people
  • It shows demonstrated effort to either recruit LGBT people for employment, or support equality for them
  • Companies will lose points if there is a public blemish on their record of support for LGBT people, including off-color remarks or donations to organizations whose primary mission includes advocacy against LGBT equality

Humana — 100 percent

According to LinkedIn, the largest non-U of L employer of U of L alumni is Humana, a health insurance company based in Louisville, with more than 750 active alumni working there. The company received a perfect, 100 percent rating from the HRC.

A. J. Hubbard, Humana’s director of inclusion and diversity, said: “Humana places a high-value on diversity because our ability to build deep relationships with a wide array of customers, businesses and healthcare providers depends on a diverse team of associates. The only way to create personalized, simple experiences for the communities we serve is to have and support associates who understand the uniqueness of these communities.”

According to Hubbard, some of the most highly emphasized LGBT initiatives at Humana are their Pride Network Resource Group, a focus on developing diverse talent across Humana, a dedication to the health and well-being of diverse communities, and diversity days.

Brown-Forman — 100 percent

Brown-Forman, a wine and spirits producer, is the 11th largest employer of U of L students in Kentucky, with 344 active alumni. The company was the first to demand of United Healthcare, their healthcare insurer, that trans employees be afforded the same health benefits as their cisgender counterparts.

Senior Communications Analyst Tim Holz said: “We really wanted people to be able to bring their whole selves to work. We had employees who said that when we started these initiatives, work was one of the only places they could fully be themselves, because their families might not have supported them. When they found out that they could be themselves at work, they became much more effective, much more efficient, because they weren’t wasting energy wondering about what their coworkers would think.”

Brown-Forman holds an annual pride fair for its employees which partners with local LGBT advocacy organizations such as the Fairness Campaign, Sienna and Powered with Pride. They also hold a periodical summit with ally companies PNC, Humana, UPS, Frost Brown Todd, Fifth Third and GE to discuss corporate equality.

“It’s a way of not only engaging our employees, but also helping those organizations and make people aware of their mission,” said Holz.

The company also gives out magnets that say “I’m an ally” for employees to put on their desks.

Lexmark — 100 percent

Lexmark, a Lexington-based printer manufacturer, was the first Kentucky company, in 2005, to achieve a 100 percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index. One hundred thirty-one active alumni work there.

Lexmark has a diversity council which reports to senior corporate leadership, several diversity network groups and a diversity day where employees can learn more about LGBT people and other minorities.

Sheri Evans Depp, director of talent management and diversity, who herself sits on the executive level of the diversity council, said: “We want to make sure we have a powerful voice into the executive team. What are the kinds of things we want to drive? What are our objectives? … We also make sure we are very transparent about who is on the diversity council so that if an employee wanted to talk to some of the folks who are on the council they could do that.”

The company also offers transgender-inclusive healthcare.

Yum! Brands — 80 percent

Yum! Brands, the parent company for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, is the 14th largest employer of U of L alums, with 84 active members of the alumni association currently working there.

James Fripp, senior director of global diversity and inclusion at Yum! Brands, said: “At Yum! we are committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workplace for all of our associates globally, which includes those who are members of the LGBT community. While we recognize that there’s still work to do, we are encouraged by our score on the HRC 2015 Corporate Equality Index.”

The only company this year that did not achieve a perfect score on the index, Fripp said Yum! Brands will continue to try to improve its score. It has already implemented equal employment opportunity policies, as well as same-sex partner benefits and an employee resource group.

“We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to educate, equip, engage and empower all of our associates. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our diverse and inclusive culture at Yum! in 2015 and beyond,” he said.

Many of the largest employers of U of L alumni, including UPS, Norton Healthcare and General Electric, have not yet been ranked by the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

Frost Brown Todd — 100 percent

While the 475-plus attorney law firm is actually based in Cincinnati, Ohio, they do have a Louisville office, where a high number of U of L alums — both undergrad and JD — work. Their chairman also sits here.

“At FBT, inclusion is not just about race and gender.  It is about creating a culture where our employees can bring their true selves to work.  Only in this environment can all perform at our full potential and obtain optimum results for our clients,” said George Yund, FBT’s managing member.

GALE, whose logo is pictured in this story, is a diversity network group at Lexmark. Courtesy of Lexmark.

About Simon Isham

Simon Isham is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Louisville Cardinal, where he has worked since 2012. For his reporting at the Cardinal, he has won awards from the Kentucky Press Association and the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has also written for LEO Weekly and Insider Louisville. He graduated in December 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *