The BT group has been named the most gay-friendly company in the world in the International Business Equality Index by the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC).

The announcement was made in a press conference at the IT University in Copenhagen, to coincide with the World Outgames 2009, a celebration of gay sport and culture currently being held in the city.

The BT group was named the winner, with IBM and the Dow Chemical Company coming runners-up.

BT’s head of diversity practice Dennis Gissing said: “This is great news for BT and for its people.

“We have, for many years, been placed highly in a number of influential benchmarks in the UK, but, as a global employer, to attain global recognition really is a great achievement of which we can all be proud.”

The survey, the first of its kind, included worldwide corporations such as IBM, Intel, Kraft Food, TNT and Philips. The full list of companies “represent 1.7 million employees in 227 countries and sales of US$800 billion a year” according to the report.

Ian Livingstone BT’s chief executive, said he was “absolutely delighted” with the news.

“Diversity must be, and is, at the heart of our business and having the policies and the practices in place to support the LGBT community is essential to our success,” he added.

The Equality Index was created as “a measurement of the performance of multinational corporations in relation to diversity and inclusion issues” and focuses on LGBTs.

IGLCC secretary general, Pascal Lépine, said that while there were some positive findings, on the whole it was “somewhat mixed”. She added that “full equality is still years or decades away”.

Anne Heal, BT’s senior champion for sexual orientation, said: “BT has been providing same-sex partner benefits to employees since the early 1980s and will continue to look at ways in which we can ensure that our people can be ‘who they are’ at work without fear of discrimination or prejudice.”