The Corporate Equality Index is described as “the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.” To earn top marks, companies must meet the Corporate Equality Index’s criteria in four categories: workforce protections against discrimination; equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families; supporting an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility; and responsible citizenship.
BNSF and UP join the ranks of 545 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks. It is the second year in a row that UP received a 100% score.
“This award represents the hard work and relentless drive within Union Pacific to create a company culture that embraces diversity and inclusion as a strength and cultivates a workplace environment where all employees are treated with dignity and respect,” UP Chief Diversity Officer Debra Schrampfer said.
“[This] award reaffirms people who identify as LGBTQ+, and our allies, belong at Union Pacific,” said Ryan Kula, President of UP’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employee Resource Group known as BRIDGES. “It also underscores the railroad’s commitment to building a workforce that reflects the communities in which their employees live and work.”
“At BNSF, we encourage and facilitate a culture of inclusion for all,” said Tom Williams, Group Vice President of Consumer Products and Executive Sponsor of PRIDE+. “We know that an inclusive work environment makes us stronger as individuals, as well as an organization. It’s a journey that together with our PRIDE+ Business Resource Group and our BNSF team members throughout our network we continue to improve.
BNSF noted that it is “particularly proud” to have improved its score from 90 to 100 since last year. Some of the improvements the railroad has made include:
- Expanding its voluntary self-identification form to include LGBTQ+ “to better understand the composition of our workforce and expand our diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
- Adding additional benefits for domestic partners, including leave, relocation benefits, and hardship and rollover distribution.
- Updating its LGBTQ+ Life Journey to myBNSFbenefits, which the railroad said “helps employees navigate the benefits, resources and support available to them and their families.”
“For well over two decades, businesses have played an important role in furthering LGBTQ+ equality by centering employee needs and voices when it comes to workplace inclusion,” said RaShawn “Shawnie” Hawkins, Human Rights Campaign Senior Director of Workplace Equality. “Our goal at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation is to work in a spirit of partnership with companies by providing educational resources, technology and collaborating on ways for businesses to support the LGBTQ+ community. The CEI [Corporate Equality Index] is an ever-evolving tool for companies to encourage a more inclusive workplace culture.”