A Blemish on FL Society… Lack of LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Law Still a Major Issue.
Florida is one of 15 states that has zero statewide protections against discriminatory action in the workforce for LGBTQ individuals. Most people don’t even know this is the case for what is otherwise such a vibrant, diverse, and culturally rich community.
Just last May, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), that would have granted protections statewide by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to FL’s existing civil rights, was blocked by a sheer 7% miss.
This comes as a staggering surprise considering the bulk of FL’s businesses, (giants like AT&T, Marriott, Wells Fargo and the Miami Heat whose combined net-worth alone exceeds that of $550 billion), have publicly voiced their support for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
What do these titans of industry get that law makers do not? – The sheer power of LGBTQ.
“The combined buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults rose about 3.7% to $917 BILLION, [yes, with a B -], last year rivaling the disposable income of other American minority groups.”
Never before has a single minority demographic had such an astonishing financial effect on the U.S. economy and their influence continues to grow tremendously in the American workplace.
“As of 2016, 92% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.” (Catalyst)
But fear of being ousted, excluded and discriminated against keeps the LGBTQ workforce from reaching their full potential. “31% of closeted employees fear losing connections with co-workers. 23% fear they might not be offered development or advancement opportunities and 1 in 10 leave because they feel their work environment was unwelcoming.”
In one of the lowest periods of unemployment this state has ever experienced (3.7%), businesses can’t afford to be losing so much quality talent. Yet, with half the LGBTQ workforce feeling they must lie about their personal lives, (35% of the workforce), it’s clear that this general culture of antagonism has to change – and that very change must originate from the source.
(Photo credit: Movement Advancement Project)
What can my business do to support the fight for equality?
Learn more about what constitutes an LGBTQ discrimination claim, understand how federal and state law operates with regards to rights granted in the workplace, and keep up with news about legislation that’s being passed in your communities. The SAVE organization, for example, has informed updates on the latest legislation, lawmakers making headlines and community outreach events in the SFL area.
Take a Look in the Mirror:
Take time to evaluate your own workplace. Ask yourself, “Is this a safe environment for my employees?” “Do I have inclusive policies in place, equal benefits for all (NOT some) and resource/ally programs?”
Most significantly, the possibility of real change has a fighting chance when an organization’s leadership reflects a strong commitment to equality – in every facet of their business. It is essential that management presents a united front that sets an example for their team, any potential clientele and the business community as a whole.
Get Out There:
Sometimes making a difference means taking swift and direct action. Get involved with a local organization – and make it a team effort. Be living proof that there’s power in numbers and take the opportunity to build a sense of camaraderie with your team.
Here are some organizations we love:
Business Equality Network (SAVE): http://www.save.lgbt/business_equality_network
Florida Competes: https://www.flcompetes.org
Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org
The Trevor Project: https://cities.thetrevorproject.org/miami/
Equality Florida: http://www.eqfl.org
The Matthew Shepard Foundation: https://www.matthewshepard.org
To close, we leave you with this:
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
*This article was written in partnership with the SAVE organization, SFL’s leading organization dedicated to protecting the LGBTQ community against discrimination. A special thanks to Tommy Gomez and the SAVE team for all the incredible work they are doing.