At this historic moment in the LGBT civil rights movement, Florida is on the front line of Southern states in achieving LGBT equality, and the business community is helping to lead the way.
Florida has passed more than 125 local ordinances banning discrimination and recognizing our families, yet we remain one of 29 states in which it is still legal under state law to discriminate against job applicants and employees because of their sexual orientation. In 33 states, including Florida, it is still legal to discriminate based on gender identity.
Corporations have long understood that pro-equality policies are good for business, and the numbers are irrefutable. The more successful a business is in the United States, the more likely it is to embrace equality.
“Openness to diversity is a driving factor in decisions about where people choose to live and where corporations choose to relocate or expand their operations,” said Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida. “Business leaders todayare not only taking a closer look at their internal policies, they also are looking at the quality of life in the communities in which their increasingly diverse workforce must live.”
This is why a growing coalition of 15 of Florida’s largest employers is now actively pushing state lawmakers to ban anti-LGBT discrimination statewide, including Florida Blue, Wells Fargo, Winn Dixie Stores, Disney, CSX and others.
According to a recentsurvey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, more than 70 percent of Americans strongly support laws that would protect gay and lesbian people in the workplace. In spite of the fact that there is no federal protection, 75 percent mistakenly believe that it is already illegal to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation.
With an international reputation as an LGBT-friendly destination, as well as being the “Gateway to Latin America,” South Florida must lead the way in advocating for inclusiveness in the corporate culture.
Equality Florida formed Equality Means Business(www.EqualityMeansBusiness.org)in 2010 to spotlight and support major employers in Florida that have adopted comprehensive non-discrimination policies and have demonstrated their commitment to valuing, and proactively including, all employees. The organization’s goal is to improve Florida’s national and international reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work and visit.