In February, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP)—an independent think tank that focuses on LGBT policy issues—released a report ranking Georgia last among the states in terms of legal protections for transgender people.
The report, Mapping Transgender Equality in the United States, scored each state in 25 key legal and policy areas, including whether or not LGBT people are protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public places, like doctor’s offices.
The impact this lack of protections has on LGBT Georgians’ quality of life is a key reason why businesses are supporting a statewide, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law. They know the threat of discrimination is a huge deterrent for LGBT workers and families who might be planning to move to Georgia, which hurts the state’s ability to attract top talent.
One of those businesses is Shaw Industries, where Giselle Lawn was working when she began transitioning 8 years ago:
Watch Giselle’s story:
When Giselle called a meeting with Shaw’s diversity manager to let her know she was transitioning, she was worried. She knows other transgender people who have been “dismissed on the spot” during similar meetings, and Giselle wondered if the same thing would happen to her.
Giselle, though, had nothing to worry about. Shaw supported Giselle during her transition, implementing a staff-wide education campaign and giving Giselle paid time off to address any medical needs. But too many gay and transgender employees face discrimination at work and elsewhere—which is why Georgia needs statewide non-discrimination protections.
Another major Georgia employer that’s speaking out is Cox Enterprises. Cox’s Vice President of Talent Management and Diversity Andrea Lawson says Cox’s hiring and management policies are guided by a simple rule: Do the right thing for employees, customers and communities—and that includes supporting LGBT non-discrimination.
“We are committed to creating a diverse workplace that respects and celebrates many backgrounds, ideas and perspectives. It’s both a core value for Cox and a business imperative. Now more than ever, Georgia is a great place to do business and supporting nondiscrimination policies inclusive of all the LGBT community and so many others in the state is key. These type of protections allow us to attract and retain the best talent and, in turn, strengthen the economies in the communities we serve.” –VP of Talent Management & Diversity Andrea Lawson, Cox Enterprises
But according to MAP, Georgia is falling far short right now when it comes to doing the right thing for LGBT Georgians. The LGBT friendliness scores compiled in Mapping Transgender Equality in the United States range from -6.5 to 18, with a higher score indicating stronger protections for transgender people. Georgia’s score was an abysmal -4.5, making it the only state in the country to be ranked in the negatives on their LGBT non-discrimination index.
Knowing this, it’s not surprising that transgender as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans may be less likely to move to Georgia for employment opportunities. Lack of protections could also stoke “brain drain” from the state. Businesses know that the economy is dependent on a diverse workforce and client-base. And if Georgia lawmakers are serious about ensuring the state’s ability to compete in an increasingly global market, they should take action to advance non-discrimination protections.SHARE THIS STORY