Bridgestone scores high on workplace equality

Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. has almost doubled its score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), moving from a score of 45 to 80; making official what the company says has been an inclusive environment for its employees.

The Corporate Equality Index, which this year rates 519 businesses, measures the extent to which employers protect their GLBT employees. Ratings are based on factors like non-discrimination policies, diversity training and benefits for domestic partners and transgender employees. Among the findings of this year’s report:

Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., includes all North America manufacturing and retail operations for the Bridgestone group. It is the only tire company that ranked on the list. The only areas it did not score in are those related to providing domestic partner benefits.

“We made several policy changes over the past year that formalized the inclusive spirit that already existed at Bridgestone Americas,” said Michael Fluck, advertising and Internet manager for Bridgestone Firestone. “We’ve always had the spirit of non-discrimination; we just needed to translate that spirit into written policy.”

Fluck said a team began working on upgrading the CEI after an informal meeting at last year’s HRC Dinner and Fluck’s meeting with HRC President Joe Solmonese. Then Fluck and the team of cohesive and comprehensive leaders within Bridgestone Americas began to talk about policy changes, which included adding gender identity to the non-discrimination policy.

“We already had sexual orientation in our non-discrimination policy,” Fluck said. “Our goal is to continue to expand diversity initiatives at Bridgestone Americas.”

Some of those improvements could come within the next two years, with the company evaluating the feasibility of adding domestic partner benefits to its employees, and additional training courses on diversity.

“We already had a contract in place for the 2008 benefit package,” Fluck said. “We are hoping to consider the domestic partner benefit component as part of the 2009 benefit package.”

Fluck said he was proud to work at a company that valued diversity and was committed to “doing the right thing.”

“We’ve been doing diversity marketing for years,” Fluck explained. “But for such a large company to make so many policy changes in so few months. . . well, it’s clear that management is committed. There was really very little debate about doing the right thing and being inclusive for all employees. It makes me proud to work there.”

The recently released HRC CEI, showed an unprecedented 195 major U.S. businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent, up from 138 last year – a 41 percent increase. The Index rates employers on a scale from 0 to 100 percent on their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. The 195 businesses that met all of the criteria employ more than 8.3 million workers. When the Index was first released in 2002 only 13 companies, employing 690,000 workers, received the top rating.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. was one of the top improvers (along with Bridgestone Americas), raising their score to 75 percent from last year’s 35 percent, largely because they started offering domestic partner benefits.

"Kroger is offering domestic partner benefits as part of our 2008 plan," said Kroger spokesperson Meghan Glynn. "We review our health plans every year to ensure our plans meet the needs of our employees. Domestic partner benefits are being added in 2008 to help ensure all eligible associates and their families have access to high-quality, affordable health care."

Kroger had an incident with Out & About Newspaper when the chain removed the paper from their free publication racks. They have since reversed the decision and allow the newspaper in eight of its Nashville-area stores.

"More businesses than ever before have recognized the value of a diverse and dedicated workforce," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "More importantly, these employers understand that discrimination against GLBT workers will ultimately hurt their ability to compete in the global marketplace."

The banking and financial services industry has 32 companies with 100 percent, more than any other industry. While there are 30 law firms with the top rating, up from 12 last year. 

Three sectors saw their first company achieve a top rating. In mail and freight delivery, United Parcel Service (UPS) achieved 100 percent. In contrast, FedEx (FDX) received a 55 and does not provide benefits for domestic partners firm-wide, including to married same-sex couples in Massachusetts.

In the transportation and travel services industry, Travelport known for its travel sites such as is the first to receive a perfect score.

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) is the first gaming industry company to achieve 100 percent.

For the first time, a majority of rated firms – 58 percent – provide employment protections on the basis of gender identity.

Among the 57 companies that have newly achieved a perfect score of 100 percent are: Allstate Insurance Co.(ALL), Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), Esurance Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP), KeyCorp (KEY), Macy’s Inc. (M), Marriott International Inc. (MAR), Mastercard Inc. (MA), Waste Management Inc. (WMI) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO).

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at


Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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