Baker & Daniels LLP was again the only Indiana-based law firm to earn the top rating of 100 percent in the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and announced today.
Baker & Daniels, which also received the top rating a year ago, joined 87 other law firms throughout the country in achieving 100 percent ratings, eclipsing every other industry in the 2010 survey. Twenty-eight additional law firms earned ratings of 80 percent or more. Overall, 305 U.S. businesses — 45 more than last year — representing more than 9.3 million full-time employees earned the top rating of 100 percent.
For the past eight years, the HRC Foundation's CEI has examined various industries' corporate policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees throughout the country. The 2010 report shows impressive gains in benefits, policies and protections across the board.
The survey rates law firms and other businesses on a scale of 0 percent to 100 percent on various factors, including whether they have a written non-discrimination policy and training covering sexual orientation and gender identity; provide insurance that covers transgender-related treatments; support same-sex partners of employees with health insurance, bereavement and family leave policies; have LGBT employee groups; engage in appropriate and respectful advertising to the community; contribute to community organizations; and decline to engage in any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for LGBT people.
Baker & Daniels has developed a number of diversity programs, including nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; diversity and inclusion training; and parity in domestic partner health insurance and other benefits, including COBRA and bereavement.
Recognizing that Indiana does not have a LGBT-advocacy platform, the firm organized an internal LGBT pro bono work group, which presented a series of organizational seminars for organizations serving the LGBT community. After an internal diversity assessment through interviews and focus groups conducted by Boston-based Novations Group, Baker & Daniels implemented an action plan that includes diversity and inclusion training for all firm employees in all offices.
Baker & Daniels embraces a broad definition of diversity, targeting initiatives on multiple fronts. In addition to LGBT outreach, the firm regularly participates in minority job fairs and annually awards two $10,000 diversity scholarships with guaranteed placements in the firm's summer associate program to second-year law students of diverse backgrounds at Indiana University or University of Notre Dame Law Schools.
"Even in an economic environment that has presented new challenges for lawyers in private practice, the nation's largest and most prestigious law firms have only stepped up their commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse group of attorneys and staff," said Joe Solmonese, HRC Foundation President. "Legal work in this country is deeply rooted in our nation's core values of equality and justice for all, and law firms continue to set the gold standard for treating their LGBT employees fairly."
Said Robert Falk, the HRC Foundation's General Counsel, "For major law firms and their clients, inclusive and fair practices for LGBT attorneys and staff have increasingly become the norm. Top law firms are aware that providing equal benefits and protections to their LGBT employees translates into a positive work environment and the ability to recruit the best lawyers. Moreover, in-house counsel routinely tell us that they look at the CEI law firm ratings when evaluating firms under consideration for their business."
The 2010 CEI surveyed a total of 127 law firms, all but three of which are ranked among The American Lawyer's 200 highest-grossing law firms. The number of firms – 88 in all – achieving the top score reflect a steady increase over past reports. In 2006, the first year law firms were invited to participate, 12 firms achieved a 100 percent rating. Perfect scores were achieved by 30 firms in 2007 and 64 firms in 2008.
In all, the 2010 CEI survey rated a total of 590 private employers in various industries. For more information on the 2010 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.
ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.