Top grades for LGBTQ workplace protection go to BB&T, Reynolds, Replacements and others

Richard Craver
Winston-Salem Journal, News & Record
January 23,2020

Five corporations and one law firm based in the Triad received top grades for their policy in protecting LGBTQ workers, according to an annual equality index released Tuesday.

The report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation measured 27 in North Carolina and 1,059 nationally.

The Corporate Equality Index has been published since 2002.
The index score is based on public policies addressing five categories: non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBTQ diversity and inclusion, public commitment to LGBTQ equality, and responsible citizenship.

Getting the top score of 100 in the Triad were BB&T Corp., LabCorp of America Holdings, Replacements Ltd., Reynolds American Inc., Quaintance-Weaver Management LLC, and Womble Bond Dickinson.

Replacements was founded by Bob Page, a gay-rights advocate.

VF Corp. which moved recently from Greensboro to Denver, also had a 100 score, as well as Wells Fargo & Co.

SunTrust Banks Inc., which was bought by BB&T for $30.4 billion in a deal that closed Dec. 7, also had a 100 score.

“An inclusive and diverse workforce is the backbone of a successful business, and a foundational pillar from our 275 years of combined history serving our teammates, clients and communities,” Wendy McSweeney, chief inclusion and diversity officer at Truist, said in a statement.

“We remain unwaveringly committed to fostering a culture where we advocate for, celebrate and embrace inclusion and diversity.”

John Lake, the LGBTQ segment leader for Wells Fargo’s marketing division, said having a 100 score for all 17 years of the index “reflects our ongoing commitment to Wells Fargo’s LGBTQ team members and the diverse communities we serve.”

Reynolds said in a statement that “we work purposefully and tirelessly to develop and implement meaningful programs that help all people thrive.”

“We, along with our parent company, British American Tobacco, are fully committed to fostering an environment in which diversity and inclusion is valued, sought and championed.

“This recognition, as well as Mr. Ricardo Oberlander’s recent signing of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge, evidences that.”

It was the sixth consecutive year that the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson achieved a top score.

“The Corporate Equality Index is important because it provides us with an objective report card of how we are doing in meeting our goals of having an inclusive, supportive workplace for LGBTQ employees,” said Kevin Lyn, chairman of the firm’s diversity committee.

“We are grateful for the recognition, but more importantly, we appreciate having benchmarks to help us continue to improve.”

The HRC may be most recognized locally for its N.C. House Bill 2 repeal efforts in 2016 and 2017.

House Bill 142, a compromise reached between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders, did away in March 2017 with the requirement that people use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Nationally, 680 businesses received the top score.

“These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do — it is also the best business decision,” HRC president Alphonso David said.

“In addition, many of these leaders are also advocating for the LGBTQ community and equality under the law in the public square.”