Updating LGBT Workplace Discrimination Laws Would Boost Florida's Economy, According to Study
Gay rights advocates have been arguing for a while now that marriage equality and overall rights are not just a matter of allowing the LGBT community to be treated like all others but also a matter of the economy for the state.
And now a brief put together by the national think-tank Movement Advancement Project (MAP) that nondiscrimination laws not only protect LGBT workers but also give a shot in the arm to the economy.
The brief, titled "The Need to Update Florida's Nondiscrimination," is a detailed analysis focusing specifically on how Florida businesses can gain a competitive advantage if they value diversity and open their doors to hiring LGBT workers.
A survey of LGBT employees shows that 38 percent of them have been harassed or discriminated against at work in the past five years.
According to the brief, 62 percent of LGBT workers can be fired based on gender identity, while 50 percent can be fired based on sexual orientation.
Likewise, the brief finds that one in eight same-sex couples are raising children in Florida. That means family, which means an economy boost.
If Florida were to remain rigid with its discrimination toward LGBT workers, that could mean these families bolting for a gay-friendlier state, which would hurt the economy overall.
"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 Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, via their website. "In order to be economically competitive and attract the best and the brightest, the State and the business community must institute policies of fairness and non-discrimination. No one should have to live in fear that he or she can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance."
The good news is that a majority of Floridians think it's time for workplace fairness, with a widespread belief that the state's nondiscrimination laws need to be updated.
According to the brief, 73 percent of Floridians believe that LGBT employees should be treated fairly at work. Moreover, 69 percent of small-business owners support state laws protecting LGBT workers from employment discrimination.
Fourteen of Florida's 16 Fortune 500 companies have policies that address discrimination against LGBT people.
Yet even with these findings, only 38 percent of Floridians live in a city or county with protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Overall, there is no federal law that protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, while a good majority of states -- including Florida -- don't have a state law for it either.
According to the MAP findings, turning that around would help the economy -- which is something that affects everyone.
You can read the entire brief below:
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
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