It was announced this week that we — for the seventh consecutive year — achieved a score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index (CEI). For 16 years, the CEI has been a national benchmarking measure for U.S. corporations in regard to their policies and practices towards LGBTQ employees, and each year they compile the list of "Best Places to work for LGBTQ Equality," on which we were honored to be included.

Michael Quiello, United's vice president of corporate safety serves as executive sponsor of United's LGBTQ-focused business resource group EQUAL. "As a global company serving a diverse range of communities, the richness of our own different backgrounds, cultures, experiences and ideas brings enormous value to the organization, and I'm proud to be a part of a team that celebrates this," said Quiello. "The Human Rights Campaign's recognition seven years running is a powerful validation that we're continuing down the right path."

To help cultivate inclusivity, United's Diversity and Inclusion team encouraged the formation of several Business Resource Groups (BRGs) that serve as platforms for employee advocacy. Today, there are five BRGs that represent the company's diversity, including one for multi-cultural employees, women, veterans, millennials and LGBT employees. The LGBT group, EQUAL, is one of the fastest growing at United, with the addition of three new chapters in San Francisco, Newark and Washington D.C.

EQUAL regularly invites speakers to address its membership on topics that affect the community, and it provides advocacy and support to United's leaders on areas of policy. EQUAL also partners with local non-profits to sponsor and participate in events and initiatives throughout the year. Each June, the group takes part in several Pride events across the country, and in October they work to combat LGBT youth bullying through a nationwide Spirit Day. This year we held Pride celebration events in over 20 locations and participated in six Pride parades, while also celebrating Spirit Day in multiple locations. This year, they additionally supported the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Teen Living Program and the Chicago House through philanthropic events and participating in the AIDS Run/Walks -- where they raised more than $5,000 for these groups.

Diversity initiatives and equal rights are the foundation upon which the celebration of differences is built, but true inclusion is an attitude and a core belief. We are proud to join the other select companies that have earned the distinction from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for supporting the LGBTQ community in civil rights policies and practices, and workplace inclusion.