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February 1, 2021

Maine companies score high in LGBTQ workplace equality index

exterior of L.L.Bean retail store in Freeport, showing giant Bean boot File photo Freeport retailer L.L.Bean improved its score to 90% on the Corporate Equality Index, a measure of LGBTQ workplace fairness.

This year’s Corporate Equality Index, an annual benchmarking study of LGBTQ workplace fairness, gives high marks to two Maine-based companies among over 1,000 that were graded nationwide. Other prominent businesses in the state also performed well. 

Hannaford Supermarkets received a score of 100% on the index, released by the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign and the HRC Foundation. L.L.Bean Inc. earned a rating nearly as high, 90%.

This is the 10th consecutive year Scarborough-based Hannaford has received the perfect score, while the rating for L.L.Bean nearly doubled from its showing last year. The Freeport retailer, with about 5,000 employees worldwide, scored 50% in 2020.

The CEI, first issued in 2002, uses voluntary surveys and other data to evaluate companies on the basis of LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies, benefit equity, support for an inclusive culture, and corporate social responsibility. Of the 1,142 companies that participated in the study this year, 767 earned the top score.

L.L.Bean Chief Operations Officer Marie McCarthy said in an email to Mainebiz, "At L.L.Bean, we value individuality and encourage our colleagues to be themselves, because we know the uniqueness of each person makes the whole better. These beliefs have been inherent in our organization for many years, and we worked with HRC in 2020 to share all of our policies, programs and detailed ways in which we strive to create the most inclusive environment possible for our LGBTQ+ employees, resulting in an increased score."

At Hannaford, Vice President of Operations Jim Hamilton said in a news release, “We are proud to have received this recognition from HRC for the ways in which we create safe and welcoming environments for our associates and customers alike. This accomplishment acknowledges the work we do each and every day to celebrate differences and respect each other’s lived experiences.”

The company, which employs nearly 30,000 people throughout the Northeast, also said it’s the only grocery retailer in its market area to have received a perfect score and the only business of any kind to have received the top mark in Maine.

However, other businesses with large footprints in Maine tied that mark, or came close.

For example, Unum Group (NYSE: UNM) earned a 100% rating both this year and in 2020. The insurance and benefits company, which incorporated in Maine 173 years ago and is now based in Tennessee, still maintains its largest operations in Portland, with 2,800 employees. 

Another insurer, Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF) also scored 100% in 2021, the 13th year it's received that grade. Sun Life has 500 employees in Scarborough and South Portland, and is planning to move into a 100,000-square-foot Portland office complex that broke ground in December.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) received a score of 95%, after getting 90% last year. The company has been hiring Mainers to ramp up production of COVID-19 medical tests, and expects to have 2,000 workers in Scarborough and at a new plant in Westbrook.

And Hannaford’s primary rival in Maine, Shaw’s Supermarkets, is a subsidiary of Albertsons Cos. Inc. (NYSE: ACI), an Idaho-based food retailing giant that received an 80% grade.

In a news release, Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, explained the purpose of the Corporate Equality Index, regardless of the percentages.

“While the CEI cannot measure every facet of what makes a workspace inclusive," he said, "it does create a foundation upon which employees can feel more comfortable living and working as their true selves — an important step, but one which is only the starting point."

To view the CEI report and the full index, click here.

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