Kansas City, Missouri, Companies Score Higher On LGBT Friendliness Than Kansas | KCUR

Kansas City, Missouri, Companies Score Higher On LGBT Friendliness Than Kansas

Nov 21, 2014

For the most part, companies based in Kansas City, Mo., scored high on the Human Rights Campaign's latest study on LGBT friendliness in businesses.
Credit Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

A new report ranking Kansas City-area companies on LGBT equality essentially gave the Missouri side a B — and Kansas a C. 

The Human Rights Campaign's 2015 Corporate Equality Index rated 13 companies that are based in the metro in Kansas and Missouri  for their policies tied to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. 

On average, the eight companies that the index evaluated in the Kansas City, Mo., area received 83 points out of a possible 100 — with one company capturing a perfect score. In comparison, five Kansas companies in the metro received an average of 70 points — with two companies capturing a perfect score.

The index surveyed a total of 781 companies throughout the United States, 19 of which were in Missouri and five of which were in Kansas.

The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based civil rights organization, weighted scores on five major criteria, ranging from benefit equivalency for gay and transgender employees' spouses to corporate practices that either hurt or helped LGBT equality. 

The report, out this week, follows the Human Rights Campaign's praise of the city of Kansas City, Mo., for its LGBT friendliness. The campaign called the city a "beacon of hope" and a model for progressive LGBT policy, while Kansas City, Kan., received considerably lower marks.

On the Kansas side of the state line in the metro, Sprint Corp., and AMC Entertainment Inc., were the only two companies to receive a perfect 100 from the corporate index. On the Missouri side, Shook, Hardy & Bacon was the only organization to earn a 100. The law firm has earned perfect scores six years in a row in the index.

Kori Carew, director of strategic diversity initiatives at Shook, said that keeping up with the equality standards that the Human Rights Campaign sets and changes each year is an easy commitment for the firm.

"At the end of the day, we're talking about people," Carew said. "We know that people produce their best, most engaged work when they can come to work as their authentic selves."

Hallmark Cards Inc., which is based in Kansas City, Mo., received a 90 in the index for 2015. The company once was rated 100, but fell when the Human Rights Campaign started including sexual reassignment and other transgender health coverage in their criteria starting in 2012.

Hallmark Corporate Diversity Inclusion leader Michael Gonzales said that in addition to discussions about transgender equality, his company has been looking to millennials as an avenue for diversity.

"With millennials coming up now, there's a new, unique opportunity because there could be differences in personality and work style," Gonzales said. "There's no end line with diversity, [everyone] is a continual student of diversity inclusion."

The lowest score for all of Missouri businesses stemmed from Kansas City-based H&R Block, which hit a low of 35.  H&R's score was hurt for a number of reasons, including what the Human Rights Campaign alleges as a, "large-scale official or public anti-LGBT blemish on their recent records," and a lack of transgender employee health coverage and benefits parity for same-sex couples.

In Kansas, Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide Inc. received the lowest score of 20.

YRC's score was diminished by an even worse record of benefit parity for LGBT employees, lack of diversity training and corporate acts that hurt LGBT equality, according to the index.

Here's a full list of the companies surveyed and the scores they received:

Kansas: 

  • Sprint Corp. — 100
  • AMC Entertainment — 100
  • Black & Veatch — 65
  • Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. — 65
  • YRC Worldwide Inc. — 20

Missouri:

  • Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP — 100
  • Cerner Corp. — 90
  • Hallmark Cards — 90
  • Husch Blackwell LLP — 90
  • Stinson Leonard Street LLP — 90
  • Polsinelli Shughart PC — 85
  • FleishmanHillard — 80
  • H&R Block — 35

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.