gap stores

Nike, Coach and Gap were among the fashion and retail companies that scored perfect “100s” in the 15th annual “Corporate Equality Index” published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and released today.

To create the index, the foundation applies a variety of metrics to Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies to determine how well a company performs in regard to non-discrimination policies, gender identity and sexual orientation protection and equal benefits, among other issues. This year, the foundation had the largest number of companies with perfect scores at 517 of the 817 firms that participated in the ratings.

In the retail and fashion apparel segment, companies that scored 100 also included Avon Products Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco Wholesale Corp., CVS Health Corp., Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Levi Strauss & Co., Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc., Sears Holding Corp., Target Corp., VF Corp., Walgreens, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Some of the non-endemic companies serving the fashion apparel and retail industry that scored 100s included A.T. Kearney, AT&T Inc., IBM Corp., SAP, Oracle and Verizon Inc., among others.

Researchers of the report said that 82 percent of the firms rated “have gender identity protections enumerated in their non-discrimination policies and 96 percent of the entire CEI universe of businesses offer explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections in the U.S.” Other notable findings included that 73 percent of the “CEI universe of businesses offer transgender-inclusive health care coverage, up from 0 in 2002 and over six times as many businesses as five years ago.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, said that in 2016, the “LGBTQ community was subjected to unprecedented attacks — from state lawmakers plotting to undermine our historic gains, to tragic, unimaginable experiences of violence, to those who pledged to roll back our rights from the highest offices in the land.”

“And yet, during it all, the unstoppable beat of progress towards greater equality in the places many LGBTQ Americans spend most of their daily lives — their workplaces — didn’t just remain steady, it sped up,” Griffin said, adding that the number of businesses offering “transgender-inclusive health care coverage” rose to 647 from 511 last year.

In a separate statement, Stevens Sainte-Rose, chief human resources officer at Walgreens, noted that this was the 12th year the beauty and drug chain store earned a perfect score. “We recognize the importance of fostering the growth and development of all our employees,” Sainte-Rose said. “Our Pride and Allies business resource group has been especially helpful with evolving our policies and practices for more than a decade to help ensure a welcoming workplace for all.”