Travel Industry’s Top Names Recognized for LGBTQ Equality

Some of the travel industry’s biggest companies and brands have been recognized for providing workplaces that consistently show a commitment to LGBTQ equality.

Among the household names that received top honors this year on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) were Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG); United Airlines, American Airlines and also Carnival Corporation.

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Issued annually by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the CEI rates workplaces based on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality.

In the 2019 CEI report, 571 major businesses, spanning nearly every industry and geography, earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

“The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

IHG received a perfect score of 100 for the fifth year in a row.

“As a global hospitality company, we nurture a diverse and inclusive culture, where our guests and colleagues feel respected and valued,” Elie Maalouf, IHG’s CEO, said in a statement. “We are proud to promote inclusion and respect in the broader business community and applaud the tireless efforts of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in LGBTQ equality.”

In 2018, IHG, which has hotels and corporate offices in more than 100 countries, became a signatory of the UN LGBTI Standards for Business, which focus on tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people.

United Airlines meanwhile, makes its appearance among the perfect scoring companies for the eighth year in a row.

The airline has worked with the Human Rights Campaign on its training initiatives including teaching employees about preferred pronouns and the persistence of gender norms and other steps to make United an inclusive space for both customers and employees.

The airline’s latest efforts include developing comprehensive training modules and exercises to continue employee education on how to be a better ally in both the workplace and to customers. Over the past year, United has also opened more LGBTQ Business Resource Groups across the country, reaching more employees.

“United is proud to receive this recognition as it speaks to our focus on building a more inclusive and caring workplace and customer experience,” said Human Resources and Labor Relations Executive Vice President Kate Gebo. “We believe that advocating for inclusion is at the heart of connecting people and uniting the world, and United is determined to continue working with organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign to help champion LGBTQ inclusion.”

LGBT rainbow flag outside in the sun (Photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Carnival Corporation earned its third consecutive perfect score of 100 as part of this year’s index.

“Being recognized by the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in the U.S. with a perfect score on the CEI for a third year in a row is a great honor that reflects our ongoing commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity,” said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation. “We are dedicated to promoting a positive work environment for our more than 120,000 employees from over 150 countries that work with great passion to provide extraordinary vacation experiences for our guests.”

Carnival Corporation’s 2020 sustainability goals include a commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce and providing all employees with a positive work environment. Carnival has also shown its support for the LGBTQ community through such efforts as partnering with OUTBermuda and other LGBTQ community organizations to support the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Bermuda, and sponsoring the 2019 Seattle Men’s and Women’s Chorus Annual Dinner and Auction (through its Holland America Line brand).

Carnival also participates in Florida Competes (formerly Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce), a top coalition to end LGBTQ discrimination in the state’s businesses and provides sponsorship of annual Pride events to raise awareness and funds for LGBTQ organizations, including the Seattle Pride Parade and Southampton (England) Pride.

American Airlines has perhaps the longest running history among these travel brands of being named a leader in LGBTQ workplace policies. This is the 17th straight year the airline was recognized on the index.

American was the only airline to achieve a perfect score when the CEI launched in 2002 and continues to be one of only a handful of corporations to have received it every year since.

“American was the first major U.S. airline to protect our LGBTQ team members by including gender identity and sexual orientation in our workplace non-discrimination policies,” said Patrick O’Keeffe, senior vice president of People for American. “We also know that customers have many choices when it comes to travel, and that’s why we were the first major airline to launch a dedicated LGBTQ sales team and include LGBTQ-owned businesses in our supplier diversity program.”

Earlier this month, American Airlines reaffirmed its commitment to the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. American joined more than 160 businesses in support of comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people as part of the nation’s civil rights laws.