2015 will go down in history as the turning point in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT rights movement. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteed every American the right to marry whoever they love. The last remnants of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy were banished – in 2016, transgender personnel can serve openly in the military alongside gay colleagues.
There is still a critical zone where LGBT individuals face hurdles – employment. In 28 or 50 states, it is still legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation and in 31 states, it is legal to fire a transgender employee.
In 2016, the lack of protections will become a major focus. Companies like Eli Lilly realize that the fight for LGBT rights will have serious impact on talent and consumers. Janice Chavers, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly responded to Indiana’s passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which expanded the right for people to secure religious exemptions from state and local laws by saying, “This legislation is bad for Indiana and business…We search for top talent al over the world, and many of those individuals won’t want to come to a state with laws that discriminate.” In studies, over 70 percent of job seekers evaluate companies based on their LGBT-friendly benefits.
There are also public rankings like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index that people have easy access to. 78 percent of LGBT consumers and their friends would switch from the normal brands they buy to support LGBT-friendly companies. That means that unsupportive companies and states are losing out of $884 billion in the U.S. alone.
Become a role model- institute protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Guess what? 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, other companies can still do more like call on senior leaders to role model inclusive behaviors and enforce these policies in the workplaces.
Also, why not flex some corporate muscle? Show your influence on the political culture outside of your walls. The pressures in Indiana and Arkansas were successful in pushing through revisions to their RFRA bills that prevent LGBT discrimination.
Multinational companies are on this issue too. In 2016, the new HRB criteria for pro-LGBT multinationals will include a global anti-discrimination policy rather than just country-specific protections.