Exxon remains at bottom of new HRC Corporate Equality Index

CEI_2014_ReleaseThe Human Rights Campaign was unimpressed when ExxonMobil began offering partner benefits to its LGBT employees earlier this year. That company retains its minus-25 a score on the new Corporate Equality Index released this week.

On the other end of the spectrum are AT&T, American Airlines, GameStop and Nokia, local companies with perfect scores.

“AT&T was the first major corporation to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation,” AT&T spokesman Charles Bassett said. “AT&T has also donated millions of dollars to support LGBT causes.”

HRC was bothered by Exxon’s refusal to add a nondiscrimination policy and noted its fierce opposition to a shareholder resolution to add the protection at its annual meeting held in Dallas in May.

Texas Instruments increased its score from 85 to 90. J.C. Penney kept its score of 95. Comerica Bank decreased from 95 to 90 this year. Southwest Airlines held steady at 90.

More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Is it OK to eat at Cracker Barrel?

Cracker Barrel, which has long ranked right up there with ExxonMobil Corp. on the list of well-known businesses that are considered anti-gay, improved its score on this year’s Corporate Equality Index by 40 points, from a 15 to a 55. Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel is cited in the 2011 CEI report, released Monday by the Human Rights Campaign, as one of 12 companies that increased their score by more than 30 points:

“Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., once in the news for delivering pink slips justified by ‘The employee is gay,’ has implemented a non-discrimination policy and diversity training that includes sexual orientation and has even gone as far as to provide a cash grant to the Tennessee Equality Project,” according to HRC.

If you’ll remember, Cracker Barrel’s anti-gay history goes back at least as far as 1991, when the company instituted a policy requiring employees to display “normal heterosexual values which have been the foundation of families in our society.” From Wikipedia:

The company refused to change their policy in the face of protest demonstrations by gay rights groups. After ten years of proposals by the New York City Employees Retirement System, a major shareholder, the company’s shareholders voted 58 percent in 2002 in favor of rescinding the policy. The board of directors added sexual orientation to the company’s nondiscrimination policy.[3]

The Tennessee Equality Project, the recipient of Cracker Barrel’s donation, is applauding the company’s improved score on its website, going so far as to print “Equality — Now Being Served” under a Cracker Barrel logo.

Well, not quite.

Unlike 76 percent of companies rated in the CEI, Cracker Barrel still doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on gender identity; unlike 79 percent of companies in the CEI, Cracker Barrel still doesn’t have written gender transition guidelines and/or cover gender identity as a topic in diversity training; and unlike a whopping 95 percent of companies in the CEI, Cracker Barrel still doesn’t offer domestic partner health coverage.

In short, as tasty as it may sound, we’re not quite ready to order up an Apple Steusel French Toast Breakfast at one of Cracker Barrel’s eight locations within 50 miles of Dallas Voice’s zip code.

—  John Wright