Equal, Once More

This month, we learned that Clorox has earned another perfect 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. HRC is a national LGBT rights organization that, among other things, rates U.S. Fortune 1000 companies on their policies and practices with respect to their LGBT employees.

As Chief of Staff for Clorox Pride, our employee resource group for LGBT employees and advocates, and senior corporate counsel at Clorox, I’m proud of this recognition, because it really shows how far we’ve come in the past six years on LGBT matters.

When I joined Clorox in 2006, I was surprised by how little attention was given to LGBT equality issues. We’re located in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Francisco, and since the 1970s, the Bay Area has been at the vanguard for LGBT equality issues, both globally and nationally. What’s been amazing is how quickly since 2006 we’ve been able to realize the opportunity to update our employee policies and benefits.

What did it take? It took a group of enterprising LGBT employees who love working at Clorox and who know that our “do the right thing” culture could surely do the right thing on LGBT issues too.  Tactically, it took developing allies among senior management, Human Resources and our straight colleagues, and educating them on the disparities and how to remedy them. (Explaining to our executives the medical necessity of hormone replacement therapy for transgender employees led to some particularly colorful questions and conversations!)  It also took some serious investment in benchmarking and cost analysis.  And finally, it took powerful and passionate personal appeals to our collective sense of justice and fairness, and leveraging our long-standing reputation as a socially responsible company.

Since 2006, we’ve made huge progress: We now have benefit plans which grant equal treatment for same-sex and different-sex couples and insurance plans that cover the special health-care needs of transgender employees. We’ve also begun to participate in national organizations like Out & Equal and Businesses for Workplace Equality to promote the message that LGBT equality is not only the morally right position, it is a business imperative.

When I hear our CEO speak so persuasively and publicly about how LGBT equality — and diversity and inclusion in general — is critical to our future success as a company, I know that we’re firmly on the right track.  Are we perfect?  Of course not.  We, and most other companies in our industry, have a ways to go on topics like equalizing tax treatment of same-sex couples,  providing parental leave and fertility benefits that meet the needs of LGBT families, and adopting a gender transition policy.  But based on our trajectory, I am confident that we’ll get where we need to go.