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The Human Rights Campaign announced on Friday, March 8, that an unprecedented 161 leading businesses have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Of them, five are from Michigan: Ally Financial and General Motors in Detroit, The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Kellogg Co. in Battle Creek, and Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor.
With a combined operation in all 50 states, headquarters in 26 states, more than $3.7 trillion in revenue, and more than 8.5 million employees across the U.S., these companies know how important it is to have a federal legal standard that guarantees all employees the same rights and protections — no matter where they live.
Expected to be introduced in Congress next week, the bipartisan Equality Act would finally add clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to the nation’s civil rights laws. Currently, 50 percent of LGBTQ Americans live in the 30 states that still lack statewide legal non-discrimination protections, leaving their residents and visitors at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are or who they love.
“The more than 160 leading American companies that have joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act are sending a loud and clear message that the time has come for full federal equality,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president.
“By standing with the LGBTQ community and joining the fight to pass the Equality Act, these companies are demanding full federal equality for the more than 11 million LGBTQ people in this country who deserve to earn a living, raise their families and live their lives free from discrimination. These leading employers know that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business.”
“At Kellogg, we firmly believe in diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, marketplace and in the communities where we work and live,” said Mark King, Global Head, Diversity & Inclusion, Kellogg Company. “Supporting the Equality Act demonstrates our continued commitment to creating an environment in which all employees are included, treated with dignity and respect, and are empowered to achieve their full potential.”
“Our ability to meet the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse and global customer base is tied closely to diversity and inclusiveness within our teams,” said Ken Barrett, GM Global Chief Diversity Officer. “General Motors is focused on building a winning culture–one that provides opportunity and an environment that allows all employees to reach their highest potential. Supporting the Equality Act means we win together as one team and share the responsibility of helping GM shape the future of mobility.”
“Dow was proud to be the first company to publicly support passage of the Equality Act, because no one should have to live in fear of discrimination or harassment,” said Louis A. Vega, vice president of North American Government Affairs and Advocacy at Dow. “We believe strongly in fairness and equality for every American, and no one should be fired, evicted from their home or denied services because of who they are or who they love. Supporting inclusion and equality is the right thing to do — for business and for our communities.”
“Whirlpool Corporation is a values-driven company, and we feel everyone should feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work without fear of discrimination,” said Marissa Driscoll, spokesperson for Whirlpool Corp. “We’re proud to support the Equality Act and continue our commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community, doing what’s right for our employees and community.”
Discrimination is a real and persistent problem for LGBTQ Americans. HRC polling has found that nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans report experiencing discrimination. The Equality Act would extend existing civil rights protections to LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally-funded programs and jury service.
Recent polling shows that a growing majority of Americans support federal non-discrimination protections and LGBTQ equality. A recent survey by PRRI found that seven in 10 Americans support laws like the Equality Act. In addition, post-election polling from HRC found that 60 percent of voters in the 2018 midterms opposed the Trump-Pence administration’s reported plans to define gender entirely by sex assigned at birth, thereby potentially excluding transgender people from civil rights protections. Overall, voters also identified protecting the rights of groups targeted by the Trump-Pence administration as their top reason for voting to flip the U.S. House.
A full list of the members of the HRC Business Coalition for the Equality Act can be found here.