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Law Firms Lead with LGBT Benefits
Law firms more than other types of firms in their respective industries are offering equitable benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees along with their families. A recent study by the District-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation surveyed 688 major U.S. corporations. The study found that law firms are ahead of the rest- far ahead of the banking and financial services industries. Interestingly, these other sectors have historically offered great benefits packages in terms of family leave, partner coverage, retirement options and other benefits, according to the Washington Post.
Deena Fidas, of the HRCF commented, “Historically, banking and financial services was the leading industry for LGBT workplace equality. As soon as we started surveying law firms, they quickly eclipsed that.” Some of the largest U.S. law firms were surveyed, and more than 140 firms were included in the study.
The study measured 40 policies and practices, from benefits to internal training and “networking opportunities for LGBT-allied employees to pro bono efforts on LGBT issues such as speaking up for LGBT equality.” According to Fidas, 71% of law firms scored perfectly on the index, which is remarkable since just 5 years ago law only 30 percent of firms got a perfect score. For comparison, just a third of banking and financial companies got a perfect score on Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s index. In the retail industry only 19 percent had a perfect score while consulting had 14 percent.
As recruitment efforts grow more competitive, firms match each other in terms of expanding their benefits all in efforts to attract and retain talent. Fidas comments, “The explanation for growth of [LGBT benefits] is the competitive nature for top talent across the business community. Whether it’s Apple or a top law firm or General Mills, we have seen a heightened sense of competition.” She goes on to say that law firms watch and copy each other’s benefits plans. “If a couple of firms are offering expanded fertility benefits, you’ll start to see that be a fast-moving trend among all law firms. They have incredibly competitive recruitment efforts.”
Notably, the District-based firms that had perfect scores on the Corporate Equality Index were Akin Gump, Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, Crowell & Moring and WilmerHale.
The Human Rights Campaign was started in 1980 and it is the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender civil rights organization in the United States. Their Corporate Equality Index was started in 2002 by the HRC, and law firms were added to the study in 2006.
Image Credit: CBS News & Duke.edu