A week after voters in four states expressed their support for laws allowing same-sex marriage, the country's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group is giving its own approval to dozens of the nation's largest law firms for their LGBTfriendly policies.
The Human Rights Campaign released its 2013 Corporate Equality Index Wednesday, rating 889 employers across about 40 industries on a scale of 0 to 100 based on a range of criteria that include whether they have equal employment opportunity policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity and provisions in their insurance coverage that apply to same-sex partners.
The annual index also awards companies points for offering public support of LGBT organizations and equality laws.
In March, HRC contacted every Am Law 200 firm (based on The American Lawyer's 2011 rankings) and invited them to participate in a web-based survey covering LGBTrelevant policies and practices.
The resulting index rates 145 law firms141 of them Am Law 200 firmswith 71 firms receiving perfect scores. That's up from the 55 firms that earned perfect scores last year and represents the largest number of perfect scores from any of the industries the group surveyed. Three firms received ratings of 95 this year, and another 38 firms received scores of 90. Last year, 44 firms clocked in with scores of 90.
Overall, the HRC bestowed perfect scores on 252 companies this year, up from the 189 employers who hit that mark on last year's CEI.
Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC's Workplace Project and an author of this year's CEI, notes that several of the nation's largest companies and law firms publicly took political stands on behalf of same-sex marriage proponents during the past year.
The 2013 CEI includes recognition of employers, among them several law firms, that publicly endorsed state-level legislation that either legalized same-sex marriage or opposed bans on same-sex marriage.
HRC also recognized 11 Am Law firms for filing amicus briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit opposing an appeal of a lower court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
"We're seeing a major shift in terms of how law firms, as employers, are getting engaged with the fight for marriage equality," Fidas says.