Today, customers and employees want to do business with — and work for — equality-driven companies. Business leaders around the world are recognizing that having a diverse work environment that promotes equality drives growth. According to a McKinsey report, companies that are more gender diverse are 15% more likely to outperform others; those which are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to outperform others. That’s pretty compelling!

We’re seeing more headlines and reports of businesses working towards having a more diverse and equal workforce. For example, over one hundred companies signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge in 2016, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index 2017 reports that a record 515 employers earned a top rating of 100% for creating LGBTQ-welcoming policies. Additionally, heavyweight brands like Nike and Procter & Gamble are launching large campaigns, touting a message of equality in their advertising. As more companies are realizing the societal and business value of having a diverse, inclusive workforce, we’re seeing advancements across all industries. Here are a few companies that are leading the way.

1. Accenture

Accenture is not only committed to closing the gender pay gap, but also a gender-balanced workforce. According to their numbers, they surpassed their goal of 40 percent new women hires in 2016, and aim to increase the percent of women managing directors to 25 percent by 2020. To do this, Accenture has taken steps to attract, retain, advance, and sponsor women by sponsoring the company’s most senior women, launching initiatives that empower women, and publishing their workforce demographics annually to encourage transparency.

2. Intel

Earlier this year, Intel reported that they had achieved 100 percent equal pay for all US-based women and underrepresented minorities at the company. In their 2016 diversity and inclusion report, Danielle Brown, Intel's chief diversity and inclusion officer writes, "We view pay and promotion parity as signals of the overall health of our company as well as a means of ensuring equity for all employees." In addition to closing the pay and promotion gap, Intel reveals that around 45% of its new hires in 2016 were of diverse backgrounds.

3. Apple

Being one of the largest, most powerful companies in the world means that all eyes are on you. Apple has risen to the challenge and demonstrated themselves as leaders in equality under the helm of Tim Cook, the first openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500. In 2013, Cook penned an article sharing his views on why workplace equality is good for business, urging Congress to implement non-discriminatory legislation. And again in 2015, Apple lent their support to the Equality Act, which would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment. They’ve also worked to fix their equal pay gap and are actively working on improving diversity in their workforce.

4. Starbucks

Starbucks has been a longtime champion of equality and inclusion within their company. Since the company went public in 1992, they’ve provided health care benefits for both part-time and full-time partners, including same-sex and domestic partner benefits. They’ve also received perfect scores in 2015 and 2016 on the Disability Equality Index for their disability inclusion policies and practices. Starbucks has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality, which famously led to CEO Howard Schultz defending their stance to a disappointed shareholder in 2013. “We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds," said Schultz.

5. Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente has a long history of providing a diverse and inclusive work environment. For example, they were the first healthcare organization to have a racially integrated hospital in the 1940s, and today are committed to reinventing transgender care. At Dreamforce ‘16, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson talked about ensuring that underserved groups were given a voice. “It does matter to have your voice at the table, dealing with these issues and not sitting back, simply letting something go on that you know is not the right thing to do,” said Tyson. This writeup about Kaiser includes their best practices for inspiring diversity, including using data to create equity in health and to build a representative workforce.

6. EY (Ernst & Young)

As a large, global company, EY has stated that they believe that diversity is about differences, and that inclusiveness is about leveraging these differences to achieve better business results. Their commitment to recruiting, developing, and advancing ethnically diverse professionals has led EY to be listed amongst DiversityInc magazine’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity list for fourteen consecutive years, with 2017 being their ninth straight year on its top 10 list. EY fosters programs for mentoring and developing ethnic minorities to the full potential, including a formal inclusiveness leadership program that pairs potential partners and principals with an executive coach. EY also focuses on raising awareness of the accounting profession and provides internship programs to ethnically diverse students through programs. EY also scores high in its efforts in hiring disabled employees, and offering disability awareness training for its employees around the globe, alternative career tracks, and telecommuting opportunities.

7. Salesforce

At Salesforce, our culture is built around the Hawaiian concept of Ohana, which means family. Our Ohana is built on four core values that inspire us to work together every day toward improving the world — and one of those core values is equality. We believe that in respecting and valuing employees from every background, we thrive as a result. Salesforce has taken action on closing the gender pay gap, standing up for equal rights, and in appointing a Chief Equality Officer to foster equality throughout the company and community. Currently, we foster 10+ globally active employee resource groups to promote an inclusive and diverse culture. We also believe in equal education — furthering access to K-12 education for all — and are leading the education revolution by adopting 45 schools globally and integrating STEM into their curriculum as part of our Circle the Schools program.

At Salesforce, we work together with our entire Ohana — including our customers, partners, employees, and the tech industry — to blaze a path toward equality for all. Now we invite you to join us and share in this vision. Learn more in our Slideshare.

The Path Toward Equality from Salesforce