Editor’s note: SAVE is a client of the WhereBy.Us Creative Studio, which was not involved in the production of this story.
Being tolerant, or even supportive, of LGBTQ workers is not just humane, it’s good business — More than $5 billion dollars over the next 10 years worthwhile, to be specific.
By simply enacting a statewide non-discrimination policy, we can attract more than 35,000 jobs to Florida, says a 2016 study done by Thinkspot. A policy like this would make it illegal for businesses to fire someone based on their sexuality, religion, or race — a policy Florida doesn’t currently have.
This bottom line is something SAVE highlights as it tries to bring more companies into its network of local businesses pledging equal treatment and inclusion for all workers. For SAVE the priority is, of course, making South Florida more supportive of its LGBTQ residents. But the economic benefits of it certainly don’t hurt.
- Right now, Florida ranks 6th in economic freedom, but 36th in personal freedom.
- The Sunshine State could bring in close to 37,000 new jobs in the next 10 years if it improves personal freedom and enacts a statewide non-discrimination policy.
- In 10 years, Florida’s economy could also increase its output of gross-domestic product, aka GDP, by almost $3.5 billion – just by adopting an inclusivity law.
Already more than 50 companies have signed on, including The Salty Donut, Lyft, MIA Animation, Baptist Health South Florida, The Urban Oasis Project, and yes, The New Tropic.
The effort has bipartisan support. SAVE got together with U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, as well as the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Miami Young Republicans to get the network started.
Jessica Fernandez is the president of the Miami Young Republicans group and leads a statewide initiative called Conservatives on the Right Side of Equality. She said this isn’t a partisan issue.
“I think equality is a conservative value, I think being treated equal under the law is a conservative value…people just want to work someplace where they know they’ll be treated equally,” Fernandez said.
Miami has a host of Republicans who are out of step with their party nationally when it comes to LGBTQ issues – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen top among them.
Director of Outreach and Development for the group Rey Anthony Lastre said seeing the bipartisan benefits of something like the Business Equality Network is easy when you look to traditional conservative values like individual liberty.
“We have to move forward and you do that by being more inclusive of everyone,” Lastre said. “Here in Miami-Dade County, we’re on the cutting edge of these issues.”
What Florida Could Lose
If it doesn’t enact a non-discrimination policy, Florida could see consequences like North Carolina and its HB2 bathroom bill debacle. The bill effectively banned transgender people from using government-managed bathrooms corresponding to the gender that they identify with. It tried to force people to use the bathroom that matched the gender they were born as.
The Thinkspot study outlines that North Carolina put about $4.5 billion federal dollars for public education funding at risk because the state tried to apply HB2 to public schools, and the bill violated federal law. The government could have refused to disburse those education funds. They lost contracts, conferences, and events usually held in the state. Companies that were expanding into North Carolina changed their plans. The NBA even pulled its All-Star game out of Charlotte, costing the state $100 million.
Broaden the talent search
Instead, Florida could strengthen its search for talent by showing that it’s a place open for personal freedom and expression, regardless of race, sexuality, or religion.
Over the next 10 years, that could mean close to $4 billion boost in personal incomes for all the people that live and work in the Sunshine State.
We’ve got a list of ways to make your workplace more tolerant. By making people want to come to our state, businesses could see their numbers climb, along with the demand for skilled creative class and millennial workers.