Why workplace equality is smart for business

While legislation being proposed in the U.S. would help end workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, it would also be good for business. Here's why.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit hiring and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is "virtually guaranteed" to pass the Senate.

Passage of the bill would improve lives of gay and lesbian workers across the United States -- four of 10 of whom say they experience some form of discrimination in the workplace -- in the numerous states in which their sexual orientation can get them fired.

But in addition to bringing equality to a group of people, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the Wall Street Journal to argue that an equal workplace has broader benefits to the business community. His main argument: discrimination hurts creativity.

As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We've found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives. ...

Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people's potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals' talents.

But Cook isn't the only one who sees workplace diversity as a key to creativity and innovation. An earlier study by Forbes found that 85 percent of the 321 large global companies surveyed said that diversity is important for driving innovation in the workplace. Plus diverse and inclusive workplaces help boost economic growth and help capture a larger share of consumer markets, among other benefits.

But despite the benefits, the fate of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is not clear even if it does pass in the Senate. It would still need to pass in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where House Speaker John Boehner opposes the legislation.

Read more: Wall Street Journal

Photo: Flickr/Adam Fagen

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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