Here's How Celgene Has Become the Best Employer for LGBTQ Equality

Much has changed in the world when it comes to LGBTQ equality, but there is still much work to do.

In many states of America, it is still not illegal for employers to discriminate against staff and candidates on grounds of sexuality and there are many people who still do not consider LGBTQ people to be equal. Several high-profile stories about companies refusing to grant health insurance to employees or refusing service to LGBTQ people based on outdated ideas and prejudices clearly illustrate how much further we, as a society, have to go in this regard.

The onus, then, falls on large companies to lead by example and put LGBTQ equality at the fore of their HR strategy and policies. Global pharmaceutical giant Celgene is one company that takes this matter seriously, and has been named Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality for 2019 by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF).


The assessment administered by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is named the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). It acts as a national benchmarking tool to assess companies on their policies and practices as they relate to LGBTQ people.

The survey is sent to employers on an annual basis and companies are ranked according to how they perform. This allows the HRCF to continually assess and reassess companies on LGBTQ equality and monitor how they improve over time.

"Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2019 Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees," says the HRCF. "In the 2019 CEI report, 571 major businesses - spanning nearly every industry and geography - earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality."

This year, Celgene has found itself among those highly-regarded companies awarded 100 percent on the CEI and lauded for its LGBTQ equality.

Inclusivity and Diversity in the Workplace

Celgene has earned its place among these forward-thinking companies by placing a strong focus on mentorship, volunteering, and employee inclusion groups for its LGBTQ staff. Non-LGBTQ people are also encouraged to participate and get involved with their colleagues to help them understand and empathize more with the day-to-day struggles they face.

People who have never faced discrimination because of their sexuality can often find it difficult to put themselves in the shoes of LGBTQ people, and these groups and activities are designed to address that disparity and bring teams together.

The Celgene Pride Alliance empowers colleagues to connect and network. It is supported by special members of the Celgene Executive Committee, called Executive Sponsors. These resource groups host events and campaigns that bring together Celgene employees in an inclusive and safe environment to advance the dialog of social awareness and acceptance and drive necessary change.

"The main goal is to promote employee development and learning, drive engagement, and model inclusive behavior where all colleagues can be their authentic selves at work," said VP for Talent Acquisition and Employee Experience at Celgene, Juli Blanche. "Inclusivity and diversity in the workplace not only create a more welcoming environment - it fosters new ideas, approaches and innovation across our entire business. I'm proud of everyone at Celgene for their commitment to recruit and retain the top industry talent inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities."

These groups aside, Celgene's commitment to LGBTQ also extends to its HR policy. These include increased parental leave for either parent, regardless of gender, reducing the pressure often placed on new families when it comes to childcare options. Another policy offers a bridge back to work for new parents which allows them to gradually return to employment by working on a part-time basis but with full pay.

Comprehensive and inclusive family building and fertility benefits packages, adoption support, and flexible working all help round out the list of progressive policies. In many companies, these benefits are still only available to male/female couples, so it's wonderful to see brands like Celgene extending them to include people in LGBTQ relationships.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to change corporate culture to make it more inclusive to LGBTQ people, and there is still a lot to do in society to address imbalances. Hopefully, we'll see more brands following Celgene's lead and do their part to promote LGBTQ equality and inclusivity.

"At Celgene, we respect and value all diversity of human identity and expression," says Celgene. "To achieve our fullest potential, we expect everyone to embrace diversity, promote inclusion, and champion the free exchange of ideas. It is our responsibility to continually foster a culture of acceptance and respect where every employee's voice is heard and matters, and each individual has equal opportunity to drive our growth and innovation."

You can find Celgene speaking on the hot topics in the industry at HR Life Sciences 2019, taking place this December in San Diego, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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