We talk about competitiveness all the time – on the global market, with other states, and with the business across the street. Yet this country wastes a huge amount of talent when it comes to the LGBT community. Highly competent, qualified people are turned away from jobs or fired when employers become aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Twenty states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia have realized the harm they are doing to their states and banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thirteen of these also protect transgender people.
462 of the Fortune 500 companies, including all 27 of those headquartered in Pennsylvania, also have nondiscrimination polices that include sexual orientation.
According to Shari Slate, Chief Diversity Officer for Sun Microsystems, Inc.
“Corporate success is driven by the innovative and enterprising spirit of communities of employees. A diverse workforce that represents a variety of perspectives is essential to meeting the demands of our global customers.”
Adds Heyward Bell, Chief Diversity Officer for Raytheon
“Over the next ten years we’re going to need anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 new employees. We can’t afford to turn our back on anyone in the talent pool.”
Neither Pennsylvania nor the federal government has caught on to what is so obvious to so many other states and companies. We continue to allow workplace discrimination against the LGBT community, despite the fact that it hurts our businesses and the ability of the state to attract and retain young people, who are more likely to desire diversity and inclusiveness in the places they live and work.
Here is one story of a highly qualified candidate who was actually chosen for a job – until her employer learned she was transgender. (To hear another personal story of discrimination, see our March 10, 2009, post.)
Workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is not only a violation of American ideals of equality and the civil rights of LGBT people, it also hampers a business’s ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest employees. Simply put, it’s a waste of talent.
Think it’s past time to end employment discrimination against LGBT people in Pennsylvania? Support PA House Bill 300, which would ban employment discrimination, as well as discrimination in housing and public accommodations.
Becca in Harrisburg