Jordan Krueger’s score on CEI: Uninformed, Unbalanced, Unfair

Master Chief!

Master Chief!

Jordan Krueger’s “analysis” against the HRC Corporate Equality Index is uninformed and scores the index on what he thinks it’s purpose should be rather than the reality of what it is.

Jordan should start his own Equality index that pursues his own goals.

The most obvious illumnation of his lack of knowledge is

A strange list of qualifications–including meaningless gestures like having an “employee group or diversity council,” whatever that means–is used to score companies on the CEI.

Seriously? He openly states that he doesnt know what an Employee Resource Group or Diversity Council is, but dismisses it as meaningless.

Jordan, there’s a whole world going on out there which you clearly haven’t bothered to get informed about.

Pro Tip: Wikipedia can give you a helpful answer without much effort:

Employee resource groups (also known as ERGs, affinity groups, or business network groups) are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences.[1] ERG’s are generally based on providing support, enhancing career development, and contributing to personal development in the work environment

They do much more than provide superficial social club functions.

[Employee Resource Groups] began as race-based employee forums that were created in response to racial tension in the 1960s. ERGs got their start when Joseph Wilson, the CEO of the Xerox Corporation took action after the violent race riots in Rochester, New York in 1964. He and his black employees formed the first caucus group in order to address the issue of discrimination and to help create a fair corporate environment.

That seems pretty meaningful to me.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are one of the major sources of positive changes in how a company treats its employees. Corporations typically have a number of ERGs, including ones for Women, People of Color, as well as LGBT.

I can tell you this because I’ve actually been there. I started an LGBT ERG at one company and also served on the board of Microsoft’s ERG, Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) for a few years.

I personally witnessed the group making positive change in numerous ways.

  • We caused the company to increase the health care cap for Transgender employees. The previous cap and rules didn’t cover the essentials for surgery.
  • We influenced the company to add gender identity to the company’s non-discrimination policy.
  • We helped the Xbox live team evolve their criteria for stopping homophobia online as well as reduce mistakenly blocked gay oriented activity.

Others notable efforts that have happened in the groups history are:

  • * Members of the list successfully campaigned for sexual orientation to be added to Microsoft’s anti-discrimination policy in 1989
  • * Successfully lobbied for Microsoft to offer insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners.
  • * Significantly influenced the correction of corporate missteps related to support for Washington State Laws regarding LGBT people

ERG leadership is just like the activists

Leadership Boards of ERGs are as active as grassroots activists. Just like activists attending conferences like Netroots Nation or Creating Change, they go to Out and Equal. Much like the activist conferences, there are sessions on many of the same topics, but from the perspective of how lessons can be context and domain relevant sessions.

In addition to topic-specific sessions, there are training sessions of starting and managing an ERG, best practices for working with management to create change. These skills are definitely used to good effect.

Like any group in a business they have their yearly plans and goals, budgets, and major goals to accomplish.  They are the internal allies for external activists, bloggers and the like.

Based on my experience and meeting other ERG leaders at Out and Equal, GLEAM is not unique in making change.  Many companies have active ERGs making positive change.

ERGs also do some of the ‘fun stuff’ like organizing the company’s Pride Parade contingent, making sure there’s executive participation, getting the float together.  That’s not always easy, but GLEAM has had some really cool stuff.

Xbox Halo Warthog

Xbox Halo Warthog

Furthermore, having now spent some time in the activism workplace, it’s quite clear that you are safer from abuse (bullying, sexual abuse, discrimination, etc) in a corporate environment than as an independent activist.

Veering Off Course

While you’re reading, keep in mind that the only way to get on this list of “best places to work” for LGBT people is to earn a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

Which, of course, is exactly the point of the CEI. The CEI is very clear in it’s goals:

Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

It’s focused on workplace protections, it’s not an overall scoring of any corporate endeavor and how it relates to gay rights

Not only is he veering off course from the CEI’s stated goals, the critiques are unbalanced.

Here are two typical examples of Jordan’s critique

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb: A pharmaceutical company which was sued for overcharging the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The first question to ask is what was the result of the lawsuit. I couldn’t find it after searching.

This type of litigation seems typical for that industry sector.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay Arizona $900,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Terry Goddard over inflated prescription drug prices, as reported in the Phoenix Business Journal on Wednesday.
  • In 2005, Goddard sued 42 drugmakers over allegations that they inflated drug prices and were part of deceptive trade practices.
  • Eleven drug companies settled with the state for $930,000 in June over the same lawsuit.
  • In 2006 GlaxoSmithKline settled with Arizona for $140,000, the news source stated.

So yeah, there are certainly problems like this and others with big pharma. There’s no denying it. But if you want to be a biomedical engineer or in that field, this is what you’re going to get.

It also paid out over $150 million in fines when it was discovered the company fraudulently inflated its sales and earnings in order to create the false appearance that it had met Wall Street analysts’ earnings estimates.

Not to say this is a good thing, but fudging the numbers to meet expectations is not a particularly rare. Sometimes the rules get broken and in this case at least, they paid the fine.  Again, what does this have to do with workplace protections?

Another example: HP

HP: The computer company run by gay-hating Meg Whitman, who–while running for governor–said she would defend Proposition 8, but has since flip-flopped to support marriage equality. Still a Republican, though!

So, she evolved, isn’t that what we want? Or are we going to forever condemn people for positions they once held.

How many LGBT activist held transphobic views at some point in the past. Are they permanently damaged goods?

Hp is a company that has produced a great number of technical innovations that have improved people’s lives.  Products aside, it has many progressive bonafides in corporate responsibility.

  • HP took the top spot on Corporate Responsibility Magazine ’​s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2010.[90] The list is cited by PR Week as one of America’s most important business rankings. HP beat out other Russell 1000 Index companies because of its leadership in seven categories including environment, climate changes and corporate philanthropy. In 2009, HP was ranked fifth.[91]
  • HP is listed in Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks electronics manufacturers according to their policies on sustainability, energy and climate and green products. In November 2011, HP secured the 1st place (out of 15) in this ranking (climbing up 3 places) with an increased score of 5.9 (up from 5.5). It scored most points on the new Sustainable Operations criteria, having the best program for measuring and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from its suppliers and scoring maximum points for its thorough paper procurement policy.

Purist Views

The next group of companies analyzed by Jordan really goes way off course. It’s basically more of an anti-corporate critique than anything having to do with LGBT.

Any large company is going to have tentacles across the planet in different cultures. The company itself is its own society. In anything that large, there’s going to be misbehavior. Usually that misbehavior gets corrected.

It would seem that Jordan expects a company to be perfect in every regard that simply isn’t a practical measuring stick. With such purist views, it’s hard to imagine many companies meeting Jordan’s bar.

The CEI is not without criticism

The HRC CEI as evolved over time to calibrate what it scores related to the well-being of the LGBT community.  There have been times when the ERGs have pushed HRC to improve the CEI so they have leverage to push management to improve workplace benefits.

Look Elsewhere

Jordan’s analysis is uninformed about critical assets that drive better workplace protections. His criticisms of LGBT related failures is unbalanced as well as focused on past mistakes rather than subsequent fixes and improvement. The latter is what our mission is. Finally, he’s judging the CEI based on criteria well outside its stated goals.

Jordan should go create his own ‘Corporate Evil Index’ instead of complaining because the CEI’s goals aren’t what he thinks they should be.

Anyone looking for a balanced analysis of the CEI should look elsewhere.


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