THE TOP 50
BY BARBARA FRANKEL
It’s 2007. Any company not offering
domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples does not belong on The
DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for
Diversity® list. Starting this year,
you won’t find them there.
Why would a company not offer
domestic-partner healthcare benefits for
same-sex couples? There are only two reasons: religious-driven homophobia
and/or the fear of backlash.
Our decision to make domestic-partner
benefits mandatory for the Top 50 caused
some upheaval—five companies that
would have made the list were bumped
off. And there was one company that was
on the list initially because we misunderstood what it actually offered. Once its
policies on domestic-partner benefits were
brought to our attention, we removed it
from the Top 50.
Why are domestic-partner benefits
such a big deal? They’re inexpensive and
painless to implement and yet are crucially important to the recruitment and
retention of GLBT employees (see the
story on page 142 for real-life stories of
The first employee domestic-partner
benefits were offered by The Village
Voice in 1982. The Human Rights
Campaign (HRC) reports that 53 percent of Fortune 500 companies now
offer domestic-partner healthcare benefits, up from 40 percent in 2003. The
cost of these benefits is between 0.5
and 2 percent of all benefit costs.
Enrollment rates do not exceed 2 percent of the employee population.
There are different types of domestic-partner benefits, but the most essential is
healthcare for partners. The HRC notes
that some other benefits offered to heterosexual couples that should be included are bereavement leave, adoption assistance, family leave, disability and life
insurance, pension plans, education and
tuition assistance, credit-union memberships, relocation and relocation expenses.
In The 2008 DiversityInc Top 50
Companies for Diversity survey, we will
be clarifying the types of domestic-partner benefits that companies offer to
same-sex couples. Those that aren’t doing
this yet should think about whether they
really are inclusive, progressive companies that deserve to be honored for their
diversity commitment—and whether
they are being fair to all their employees.
They know the answer, and so do we.