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See which local companies rank highest on an LGBTQ equality index

Margie Manning



Tech Data workers raising a Pride flag at the Clearwater headquarters

Tech Data Corp. got a perfect score on the 2019 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmark on corporate policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer workplace equality.

Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD), a Clearwater-based IT distributor and the largest company in Florida based on revenue, is one of six local companies to get an official rating on the index, released annually by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Three Tampa-based companies — WellCare Health Plans Inc. (NYSE: WCG), Carlton Fields P.A. and Holland & Knight LLP — also got top scores. Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF) in St. Petersburg scored 90 out of 100 points, up from 85 a year ago, while Bloomin’ Brands Inc. (Nasdaq: BLMN) scored 50.

The top-scoring companies have policies that affirm and include LGBTQ workers both in the U.S. and globally, Chad Griffin, HRC president, said in a news release. Many of those companies have joined court lawsuits and backed legislation to ensure equality, he said.

“Time and again, leading American businesses have shown that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business,” Griffin said.

There are reputational benefits for companies that support equality groups and programs, as well as increased ability to attract and retain millennial workers, the report said.

A 2018 study by Boston Consulting Group found that diverse leadership teams can result in increased innovation, because people with varied backgrounds and experiences can offer a wide array of solutions to business problems. Diversity also can lead to improved financial performance, that study said.

“Diversity and Inclusion are cornerstones of Tech Data’s culture, so we are proud and honored to have earned a perfect score in the Corporate Equality Index for 14 years,” said Beth Simonetti, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Tech Data. “By fostering an inclusive environment, we see greater innovation and a competitive advantage that benefits our company, our colleagues and our partners.”

An inclusive environment also is important at Raymond James, a statement from the company said.

““As a part of our values-based culture, Raymond James is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce and providing an environment in which each associate feels welcomed and respected. We believe this commitment to diversity and inclusion is at the foundation of being able to provide our clients with the outstanding service and support for which our associates and financial advisor are known. We are grateful that HRC has recognized the firm’s inclusion efforts,” the statement said.

The report ranks companies on their non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, inclusive culture and responsible citizenship.

To earn a top score this year, companies had to maintain domestic partner benefits for same- and different-sex partners, and require that their supplier diversity programs explicitly include LGBTQ-owned suppliers.

The index included 892 companies and law firms that were officially rated. The report also unofficially rated 135 Fortune 500 companies, which did respond to an invitation to participate in the survey.

Among the unofficially rated local companies are Jabil (NYSE: JBL) in St. Petersburg, with a score of 20, and Publix Super Markets with a score of zero.

The index also rated HSN in St. Petersburg, with a score of 90. However, Liberty Interactive, which bought HSN in 2017, was unofficially rated with a score of zero.





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