If you’re anything like me and spend the majority of your work day behind a computer, it can be difficult to avoid what feels like the constant onslaught of bad news, fake news and malicious gossip swirling on social media. Today, I’d like to shine a little light on our corner of the banking industry here in Massachusetts.
At least two Massachusetts banks this week received a perfect score on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index. This was the fourth consecutive year Eastern Bank received the honor and the second consecutive year for Rockland Trust. Administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the index serves as a benchmark for LGBTQ-friendly corporate policies and practices. That includes things like sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination practices , as well as support and health benefits for transgender workers.
“Eastern Bank is proud to be nationally recognized again as a best place to work for members of the LGBTQ community,” Nancy Huntington Stager, Eastern’s executive vice president of human resources and charitable giving, said in a statement. “We are deeply committed to ensuring that Eastern is a welcoming and inclusive workplace where all employees can bring their whole self to work. Diversity and inclusion is a fundamental aspect of our corporate values in our pursuit to make the world better, fairer and more sustainable.”
And Rockland Trust President and CEO Christopher Oddleifson said in his bank’s statement, “We are thrilled to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign for the second year in a row as a top place to work for the LGBT community. At Rockland Trust we are committed to fostering a culture of inclusiveness and respect that welcomes the full diversity of all our colleagues and communities.”
Anecdotally speaking, it shines through when I talk to those bankers. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with Eastern Chairman and CEO Rich Holbrook, who will retire at the end of the year, and among other topics, he chatted a little bit about Eastern Bank’s social advocacy positions and balancing that against stakeholders who might not fully agree with those opinions. He told me at the time:
“Our advocacy position really grew after the Wainwright acquisition. The folks at Wainwright had been very active in this field. They had a lot of contacts with the advocacy groups that were doing work in these areas, and we were introduced to them and we realized we had not been doing all that we could to make a difference. So we decided we’d try.
Now there’s a risk to that, and every organization that’s taken a position on anything controversial has to be ready to accept that risk. The risk is all of our stakeholders, which includes your employees, may not necessarily agree with your stance. We try to be sensitive to that and we use one overriding principle, which is that everybody deserves respect. Are the things that we’re doing respectful of those opinions?
It’s not always related to LGBT issues, either. These are the same issues that hold with health care and education, which I think are the pillars of the stool that hold up our society: housing, education, health care. They all end up requiring people to have jobs, too. Job training is equally as important in helping us to have a vibrant, healthy local economy.
When social justice issues impact those pillars, we feel we should speak out. It will make for a better community for all of us, a better community for our bank to operate in, a better community for our employees to live and raise families in, better community for our customers and healthier for them to do well in. It all flows together.”
The Human Rights Campaign evaluated 1,043 businesses in this year’s report and a record-breaking 517 businesses earned a 100 percent ranking. That’s up 25 percent from the 407 that earned top marks last year. Law firms and banking and financial services companies performed especially well in this year’s index, with 112 law firms and 69 banks or financial services companies earning 100 percent on the survey.
A number of other Boston-based businesses joined Eastern Bank and Rockland Trust on the list this year, including Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, LPL Financial Holdings, State Street, John Hancock Financial Services and Goodwin Procter.
Now more than ever, it’s important to recognize those companies that use their clout as a force for social good.
If you want to check out the 2017 Corporate Equality Index, you can find it here.