Best States to be Gay in Corporate America

Corporate America has long been thought of as the playground of straight, white men. Thankfully, this landscape is changing and more diversity is being seen at all levels of the corporate ladder. Diversity at the highest levels often leads to company policies that support non-discrimination and inclusion throughout a business.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation have been creating an annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) since 2002 to measure the LGBT equality policies of large, influential companies across the US. Each company is given a score out of 100, based on criteria such as non-discrimination policies, equivalent spouse and partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health coverage and public commitment.

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At Expert Market we have studied this data in order to show you the best and worst states for corporate equality. There were some surprising winners and losers, with Maryland showing itself to have the most progressive corporate working environment in the U.S.. Colorado on the other hand, showed that their businesses are falling behind when it comes to supporting their LGBT employees.

Top 10

This is a list of the Top 10 states to work in as an LGBT person within the corporate field. This list is based on the percentage of companies in each state who were assessed by the CEI and scored the maximum of 100. Companies with CEI 100 scores are identified as having progressive equality policies.

top 10 states

In order to give a more accurate picture, we only included states with more than 5 companies in the survey.

As you can see from the table above, Maryland has the highest proportion of companies with excellent LGBT equality policies. This is interesting as Maryland falls into the second worst category in the State Equality Index (SEI); a survey done by the same organization, which measures social equality and diversity policies.

Maryland does, however, have a relatively small number of companies in the survey. Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California all show great diversity policies across a large number of companies and may be ideal choices if you are looking for an inclusive corporate workplace.

Bottom 10

It is always useful to compare the states leading the way with those falling behind. Of the bottom 10 states for corporate equality, 3 had no companies at all that managed to score the maximum 100. Of these 3 Colorado is in the number 1 spot because they have the highest number of companies in the CEI list with no 100 scores.

bottom 10 states

What is surprising about this is that Colorado was awarded the highest honour in the SEI, with most seeing it as a state with solid non-discrimination laws. It is a mystery as to why their corporate contingent have not kept up with the inclusive nature of the state as a whole.

Although Colorado had a very poor 0 out of 13 companies with CEI 100 scores, what is perhaps more disappointing is that Texas, a leader in the corporate American world, had only 6 CEI 100 companies out of 74.


Comparing the amount of companies with progressive LGBT equality policies by industry gave some interesting, but not all that surprising, results. Hospitality appears to be the most progressive industry to work in with an impressive 67% of Hotel, Resort and Casino companies scoring a perfect 100.

top 5 industries

Somewhat unsurprisingly, engineering and construction are letting down their LGBT employees by being the least progressive industry.

bottom 5 industries

What does this mean for LGBT employees?

Overall this report shows dramatic progression within American corporations compared to previous years.

Numerous reports and studies have shown that diverse organisations perform better, so implementing policies which protect the sexual and gender freedoms of employees should be a top priority for CEOs across America.

Not only will current employees feel more content and motivated if they are supported by company policy; new talent will also be more likely to join a progressive corporation. Having excellent equality policies in place means that companies could open the doors to masses of talent in the form of LGBT+ employees.

  • Human Rights Foundation CEI 2015
  • Human Rights Foundation SEI 2014
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