Human Rights Campaign Grades Companies on LGBT Issues: How Do Apple, Google, Pandora Size Up?

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Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an event at the company's headquarters on Oct. 27, 2016 Cupertino, Calif.

Apple and Google are just two of the companies with heavy music interests that earned a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual report assessing LGBT inclusion among major American companies. 

The HRC’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index, released on Monday, found that 517 businesses/law firms out of 887 earned a 100 percent score based on criteria covering non-discrimination policies, benefits, accountability, a public commitment to LGBT equality and responsible citizenship.

The CEI includes several companies whose core business is music, but most are major corporations who have subsidiaries that do so. Pandora, Sirius XM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft all earned the top score of 100. As for the major labels, Sony Music parent Sony Corporation of America also scored 100. (Warner Music’s NYC-based parent Access Industries was not rated, and Universal Music is owned by French conglomerate Vivendi.) Hollywood Records parent Walt Disney Co. was at the top of the class, as were most telecom companies, including AT&T, Charter, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

As for brick-and-mortar stores where music is still sold, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart all scored 100. Stores where you may often find a CD (or vinyl LP) being sold among totally unrelated items include Starbucks, 100, and Whole Foods, which garnered an 85 in the survey because it does not offer transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage. Cracker Barrel, which sells country music CDs and DVDs in its 639 locations, earned a mere 55 points. (According to the CEI, Cracker Barrel doesn't sufficiently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.)

Online retail king Amazon earned 90 points out of 100 because HRC found it lacked "Firm-wide Organizational Competency Programs."

iHeartMedia was docked five points because it did not positively engage the external LGBT community enough, according to the criteria. Live Nation was scored at only 75 for various reasons, including the lack of coverage options for transgender employees. IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns Vimeo, CollegeHumor and The Daily Beast, among other web properties, earned 80 for lacking firm-wide competency programs.

Mega corps including Viacom and Time Warner scored 100. 

Several law firms featured in Billboard’s recent list of top music attorneys were also graded in this year’s index. Greenburg Traurig, Jenner & Block, Gibson, Dun & Crutcher and Carlton Fields all received perfect scores. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips earned 90, while Loeb & Loeb came in at 50 points.

According HRC, 517 companies earned a 100 percent in the 2017 CEI, up from 407 in the 2016 report. Of the 887 companies when participated, 647 now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage, a 314 percent increase since 2012. The report also found that gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002.

"Even in the face of relentless attempts to undermine equality, America’s leading companies and law firms remain steadfast and committed to supporting and defending the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people,”said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "The unprecedented expansion of inclusive workplaces across the country and around the globe not only reflects our progress, it helps drive it.  As we enter a new chapter in our fight for equality, support from the business community will be more critical than ever to protect our historic advancements over the last decade and to continue to push equality forward for workers, customers, and families around the world.”

Read the full report here.

Gay Pride Month 2017