- (Photo:REUTERS/Fred Prouser)
More than a third of major U.S. businesses offer healthcare plans that pay for the gender reassignment surgery of transgendered individuals.
The number of participating businesses more than doubled from last year, according to a report published by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy group Human Rights Campaign on Thursday.
Human Rights Campaign spokesman Paul Guequierre said transgender equality just makes business sense.
“[There is a] cultural shift as time progresses,” Guequierre told The Christian Post. “Corporations are looking at competitors and looking at what they need to do to compete and to attract and retain talents. They want to be seen as progressive.”
The report, the Corporate Equality Index 2012, claims that LGBT equality is “good for business,” citing the relative abundance of Fortune 500 companies who are offering aggressive health care packages for transgendered people.
“It's a progression in workplace equality. As times change and people become more fair-minded … corporations are looking to retain the best and brightest talents and to provide benefits,” Guequierre said.
The report asked over 600 businesses to define their LGBT health coverage policies, including same-sex spouse benefits and transgender healthcare.
In 2002, a business was said to have transgender-inclusive health packages if it fulfilled one of five standards: short-term leave after transition, counseling by mental health professionals, hormone therapy, surgical procedures, and medical visits to monitor hormone therapy.
But the 2012 report found that companies are embarking on achieving higher standards. Healthcare packages have to include at least $75,000 worth of transition-related care for companies to receive a perfect rating - and that funding can go to any part of a transgendered person’s transition process or general healthcare.
Among the companies that received a 100 percent rating from Human Rights Campaign – that is, their medical packages offered the best care to LGBT employees – were Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Ford, Wells Fargo, and IBM.
Guequierre said that many companies just see LGBT equality as “the right thing to do,” and that there’s been a shift from viewing transgender cases as cosmetic decisions instead of medical cases.
Amongst the Fortune 500 companies, there was no correlation between the sector in which a company operates and its treatment of LGBT employees.
It remains legal in 29 states to discriminate against homosexual applicants and employees in the workplace in the private sector; it is legal for private employers in 34 states to discriminate because of gender identity.