Pride Month is an opportunity to pause and reflect on our progress in creating more inclusive workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) employees. Major businesses – from across every industry and region – continue to support and adopt inclusive policies, benefits and practices to attract and retain LGBTQ talent.

PNC is among those companies that continues to make LGBTQ equality a priority. For the past nine years, PNC has earned the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s designation of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” PNC also serves as a national corporate partner, demonstrating a genuine commitment to providing a fair and inclusive workplace for the LGBTQ workforce.

About the CEI survey

Since 2002, the HRC Foundation has measured progress in LGBTQ workplace inclusion through its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) – the nation’s premier benchmarking tool assessing and promoting employer policies, best practices and benefits relevant to the LGBTQ community. Companies that earn top scores of 100 in the survey are recognized with the HRC Foundation’s designation of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” Over the nearly 20-year history of the CEI, we have seen incredible progress in the adoption of LGBTQ inclusion. This year, we proudly announced that a record breaking 686 companies and law firms earned top marks through their commitment to advancing LGBTQ workplace inclusion across the U.S.

Participating in the CEI and earning the HRC’s recognition means that a company has taken the first step to self-evaluate their strengths and areas of opportunity to offer a better and more inclusive workplace for the LGBTQ workforce. By using the CEI guidelines, businesses can help ensure their existing policy and benefits infrastructure is inclusive of LGBTQ employees and their families. This results in greater recruitment and retention of a talented, diverse workforce.

Importance of allies, being intentional

This important step must be coupled with ongoing support by corporate leaders and LGBTQ champions within the workplace to ensure policies and practices become a reality within daily operations. In this respect, the role of allies is critical. An ally is someone who supports LGBTQ people and equality in its many forms. Allies are uniquely positioned to speak up and ensure the connection between policy, practice and atmosphere of the workplace is cohesive.

Being intentional in creating LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces is key to fostering a fair work environment for all. A true transformation, however, requires consistency and commitment from executive leaders down to all employees.

In this vein, it is critical to acknowledge that despite incredible progress experienced in recent years, the challenges for LGBTQ employees still remain. Our research on the experience of LGBTQ people in the workplace[1] indicates that when LGBTQ people are compelled to stay closeted on the job, everyone is impacted. The findings show that 46% of people are still closeted at work; 53% of LGBTQ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while, and 31% of LGBTQ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work. While the Supreme Court recently affirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act, federal laws are still inconsistent— and 29 states still lack these protections[2].

Supporting the LGBTQ community

Companies like PNC, have worked tirelessly to not only create inclusive workplaces, but to support vital legislation like the Equality Act and other initiatives aimed to ensure the LGBTQ community is protected. As a Member of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act[3], PNC is among leading U.S. employers that support federal legislation that would provide the same basic protections to LGBTQ people as are provided to other protected groups under federal law.

Being supportive of the LGBTQ community and colleagues is more important than ever, during Pride Month and beyond. Although we cannot attend in-person events, one of the ways you can celebrate is by supporting LGBTQ programming in your workplace and being involved as an active ally. Consider ways you can be more open and vocal with your support. With the support of companies like PNC, we will continue to increase and build greater LGBTQ inclusion for the millions of workers in the U.S. and around the world.