SAVE, a local human rights group and advocate for the LGBT community, recently hosted the first of a new series of lunch and learn events in support of its Business Equality Network in Miami. SAVE's Business Equality Network is a group of South Florida businesses that are taking a stand and saying that discrimination is bad for business.
“We want the most qualified workers here in the state, regardless of who they are,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE. “We stand behind equality for all, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The values of equality are good for business and creates an environment of fairness and inclusion, which helps our businesses thrive.”
The first Business Equality Network luncheon took place April 4 at El Novillo restaurant in Miami. Attendees were welcomed by Lima and City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, an ally of the local LGBT community. In 2016, SAVE joined forces with Miami Congressman Carlos Curbelo and marketing executive Mike Valdez-Fauli to inaugurate the Business Equality Network and recruit local businesses in favor of workplace equality. Businesses and organizations who have joined the network include Lyft, Uber, IKEA, SunTrust, Magic City Casino and Ball & Chain.
"We've seen our Business Equality Network grow from just a handful of small business owners to well over 200 businesses, large and small over the last two years,” Lima said. “We hope our luncheons will foster a place for these like-minded business leaders to meet and network with one another and learn why equality is good for business.”
Right now in Florida, it's legal to discriminate against LGBT people. Lima said that’s “wrong and it's costing us.” According to a 2016 study by Dr. Dale Brill of Think Spot, Florida could boost its economic output by $5.46 billion over 10 years if it was more LGBT inclusive. By attracting millennials and the creative class, Florida could generate an additional $3.91 billion in personal income and $3.47 billion in disposable income in 10 years.
“In many parts of Florida, people can be fired from their jobs just for being gay or transgender. We are taking a stand and saying that Florida should be open for business to everyone,” said Bren Pantilione, former campaign manager for SAVE. “If we want to live in a Florida that grows by attracting the very best talent, has a strong economy and is a vibrant place to live, then we must celebrate, respect and protect everyone who works, lives and plays in our great state.”
Currently, there is no non-discrimination law in Florida that protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment. Lima says non-discrimination policies would help business owners recruit and retain top talent and help businesses create a welcoming environment for customers and clients.
“Passing this type of legislation would ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, help Florida companies attract the best and brightest employees and enhance the state's reputation as an open and inclusive world business center,” Lima said. “We support any proposal that furthers full equality for all Floridians.”
SAVE's Business Equality Network luncheon series runs in partnership with the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Florida International University, Greater Miami Society for Human Resource Management, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Career X Change and Influence Communications. The next luncheon is slated to take place Wednesday, May 2 at FIU’s south campus.