Blue Cross earns top score in Corporate Equality Index

PROVIDENCE – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2023-24 Corporate Equality Index.

The index measures corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality and the insurer joins 545 other major U.S. businesses that earned the Equality 100 Award: Leader in LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion, according to a news release.

Along with this, Blue Cross was the only insurer in Rhode Island to receive the award and is the only company to earn a score of 100 for nine consecutive years.

“We’re pleased to once again earn a top score on the Corporate Equality Index. It’s an extremely important yardstick of inclusion and equity for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace and our score reflects our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Martha L. Wofford, Blue Cross CEO and president. “Each year, we use our results as a roadmap to improve benefits, education, policies and practices across the company to better support LGBTQ+ employees.”

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Carolyn Belisle, Blue Cross managing director of corporate social responsibility, added that the changes to the index criteria in 2023 allowed the insurer to think about how it plans to continually meet community needs. For example, Belisle said, the insurer changed its annual training to include topics about sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, Blue Cross expanded its gender-affirming services benefits and created an LGBTQ+ benefits guide to help employees with family formation services, medical benefits, as well as both behavioral and sexual health resources, Belisle said.

The equality index rates companies on detailed criteria falling under four central pillars:

  • Nondiscrimination policies across business entities.
  • Equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families.
  • Supporting an inclusive culture.
  • Corporate social responsibility.

Employers rated by the index provide protections to more than 20 million U.S. workers, along with 18 million more outside of the U.S, according to the release. Companies rated in the index include Fortune magazine’s 500 largest publicly traded businesses, American Lawyer magazine’s top 200 revenue-grossing law firms, as well as hundreds of publicly and privately held midsized to large businesses.

In its first year, the index included 319 participants and this number jumped to 1,384 for 2023-2024. Up from just 17 in 2002, this is also a record-breaking number of businesses with gender-specific gender nondiscrimination protections that cover 21 million employees in the U.S. and worldwide, according to the release.

“For well over two decades, businesses have played an important role in furthering LGBTQ+ equality by centering employee needs and voices when it comes to workplace inclusion,” said RaShawn “Shawnie” Hawkins, Human Rights Campaign Foundation senior director of workplace equality. “While there is much more work to be done, year-over-year growth in CEI participation is evidence of a business community that recognizes the responsibility and value in upholding equity and inclusion.”

Hawkins added that the goal of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation is to work in partnership with companies to provide educational resources, lead benchmarking and collaborate on ways for businesses to support the LGBTQ+ community.

“The CEI is an ever-evolving tool – a blueprint that companies can use to show up more effectively in supporting their LGBTQ+ employees and their families,” Hawkins said.

Katie Castellani is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Castellani@PBN.com.