imageSeveral of the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in metro Atlanta scored high on the newest Corporate Equality Index, which ranks hundreds of businesses across the U.S. on its treatment of gay and lesbian employees, consumers and investors.

Five of those Fortune 500 companies—Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Enterprises, SunTrust Banks, Newell Rubbermaid and United Parcel Service—scored a perfect 100 on the report, released Tuesday from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Six other companies headquartered in Georgia also notched a perfect score in the rankings, among a total of 22 companies in the state included in the report.

The Corporate Equality Index bases its rankings on six issues—non-discrimination policies including sexual orientation, non-discrimination policies including gender identity or expression, partner benefits, gay and lesbian resource groups, positively engaging gay men and lesbians and exhibiting responsible behavior to gay men and lesbians.

“Achieving a perfect score for the third year in a row is very encouraging,” says Debbie Holcombe, head of U.S. Workforce Diversity for Atlanta-based ING North American Insurance Corp. “With the help of our Gay & Lesbian Employee Network, we are constantly challenging ourselves to integrate diversity into everything we do to realize a more inclusive culture and produce sustained organizational impact and growth. Our continued focus on improving programs and policies that address the needs of our employees and LGBT community stakeholders is critical to our success.”

HRC Foundation President Joe Solmonese says the report shows the importance of employers taking the lead in promoting workplace fairness.

“The 2009 Corporate Equality Index shows that corporate America understands that a diverse workforce is critical to remaining successful and competitive,” Solmonese says. “In the absence of a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, it is up to employers to take the lead and implement policies that ensure all their employees are protected.”

The Corporate Equality Index reports 259 businesses achieved a perfect score, a one-third increase over 2007 when the number was 195. The 259 top-rated businesses collectively employ more than 9 million full-time employees. Of the 255 Fortune 500 companies rated in the report, 120 received perfect scores. The average rating of Fortune 500 companies was 83 percent.

Of the 12 Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in Georgia, nine were included in the report with scores ranging from 48 to 100, including Home Depot (85), UPS (100), Coca-Cola (100), Coca-Cola Enterprises (100), Delta Air Lines (85), Southern Co. (48), SunTrust Banks (100). Mohawk Industries (65) and Newell Rubbermaid (100). AFLAC, Genuine Parts and AGCO were not included in the Corporate Equality Index.

Georgia companies included in the report and their rankings:

Alston & Bird (100)
Chamberlin Edmonds & Associates (68)
ChoicePoint (100)
Coca-Cola (100)
Coca-Cola Enterprises (100)
Cox Enterprises/Cox Communications (100)
Delta Air Lines (85)
EarthLink (88)
Home Depot (85)
ING North America Insurance (100)
Kilpatrick Stockton (95)
King & Spalding (95)
McKenna, Long & Aldridge (90)
Mirant (45)
Mohawk Industries (65)
Newell Rubbermaid (100)
Powell Goldstein (100)
Southern Co. (48)
SunTrust Banks (100)
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (95)
Troutman Sanders (100)
United Parcel Service (100)

Read the full report here.