By Dan Bross, Senior Director of Business and Corporate Citizenship, CELA, and Cynthia Per-Lee, General Manager – Human Resources, Human Resources, Cloud & Enterprise
For the 10th year in a row, Microsoft earned a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI, organized by the Human Rights Campaign, rates U.S.-based companies on their corporate policies and practices for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.
Our 100 percent rating is great recognition of the work Microsoft has done and continues to do to advance best practices for LGBT workplace inclusion in the U.S. and around the world. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex domestic partnership benefits. Microsoft was also one of the first companies to include sexual orientation in its corporate non-discrimination policy. The company has actively supported legal and legislative efforts to recognize same-sex marriage in the United States.
Earlier in our careers, prior to Microsoft, we both experienced workplaces where inappropriate jokes, outright hostility and discrimination were the norm. Unfortunately, this is still the case for many LGBT workers. A 2014 HRC study found that, despite a changing social and legal landscape for LGBT people, more than half of LGBT workers nationwide still feel they must hide who they are at work.
As co-chairs of GLEAM (Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft), we know these are often standard corporate personnel policies. But, these policies and practices make a real impact in our day-to-day life, both at work and at home. And these policies have to translate into a more inclusive workplace to truly make a difference.
Microsoft walks the talk. We’re proud to say that Microsoft lives and practices the values these policies represent on a daily basis. An inclusive workplace is one where employees feel empowered to be their whole selves – no covering, no hiding – and where leaders cultivate a culture of respect. GLEAM has found a great partner in the senior leadership at Microsoft, and that makes a tremendous difference to us, other employees and to the company.
We’re especially proud to maintain our 100 percent rating this year, as the CEI was expanded to include global operations. It also now goes beyond just the company, and requires contractors of that company to also follow the company’s non-discrimination policies.
As a global company, we understand all too well that we still have a lot of work to do to advance LGBT equality. The gains made in LGBT inclusion, non-discrimination and equality in the U.S. and in Europe are tremendous – but this progress is not represented evenly across the globe.
That’s why leadership from companies matters so much. Our CEO, president and senior leadership team believe that strengthening LGBT equality plays a critical role in promoting diversity and inclusion, and that diversity is a pre-requisite for success for both the public and private sector.
Today, as we’re celebrating our 10th consecutive A+ report card from the Human Rights Campaign, we wanted to say thank you. Thank you to members of GLEAM who work every day to help make Microsoft the leading company it is, to our senior leaders, past and present, who have pushed for fair and equal policies for LGBT employees. To all of our fellow employees, thank you for your advocacy, passion and energy that continue to push us forward as a company. Onward to the next 10 years!