Discrimination isn’t just wrong — it’s bad for business too. That’s why Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Google, Eastern Bank and major companies across Massachusetts all strongly oppose the misguided effort to repeal the Commonwealth’s non-discrimination laws protecting our transgender friends, family and neighbors from discrimination. Those businesses understand that when communities are welcoming places for everyone to live, work and raise families; businesses succeed as well. And, we can now turn to the recent experience of states such as North Carolina and Indiana to see that the economic impact of discrimination is real. Massachusetts can avoid major competitive risks – and win talent, investment and business – by sending a clear and consistent signal that all are fully welcome and protected here, including transgender people.
Inclusive policies allow Massachusetts businesses to attract, recruit and retain top talent, improving the state’s business climate and allowing us to remain globally competitive. A 2016 Harvard Business Review study found that LGBT-friendly states attract large numbers of inventors who produce 30% more patents than their peers. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials will make up 75% of the U.S. workplace by 2030. Repealing basic non-discrimination protections will negatively impact our state’s brand and ability to recruit top talent, especially among millennials, who overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections and seek to live in states that reflect the diversity and inclusion they value.
Inclusive policies also help encourage new business investment. Massachusetts has been a viable candidate for corporate relocations, expansions, and investments, but this could be threatened by the repeal of basic non-discrimination protections. Recent events have shown that many companies are unwilling to make investments in LGBT-unfriendly states. In North Carolina, HB2 and the protracted fight to repeal the anti-transgender discriminatory law cost the state approximately $630 million in less than a year. Some of the biggest losses included the loss of 2,000 new jobs from halted corporate investments, including 250 jobs at Deutsche Bank and 400 jobs at PayPal. Similarly, Indianapolis-based Angie’s List froze a $40 million, 1,000-job expansion due to anti-LGBT legislation in that state. When Texas came close to passing an anti-transgender law in 2017, many of Texas’ largest companies including Apple and IBM lobbied publicly, directly and successfully to kill the bill, fearing the consequences faced by North Carolina and Indiana. Similarly, over 300 corporations including Microsoft and Amazon, helped lead a successful, organized effort to keep an anti-transgender proposal off the statewide ballot in Washington state.
Inclusive policies make Massachusetts a more desired destination for travel and vacation, bolstering the state’s tourism industry. An integral part of the state’s economy, tourism generates $1.2 billion in state and local taxes and $19.5 billion in travel related expenditures, supporting 132,000 in-state jobs. We have seen in other states how the tourism industry is often the first to experience economic damage when the state is perceived as hostile to LGBT people. Visit Indy found that Indiana lost at least 12 conventions and $60 million in revenue after the passage of anti-LGBT legislation in 2015. In North Carolina, among the numerous canceled performances and sporting events, the NBA pulled the All-Star Game out of the state, costing the region more than $100 million in revenue according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Additionally, shortly after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI in 2017, the NFL warned Texas that it would consider the civil rights laws of states before it chooses future event locations, suggesting that the state could miss out on hosting future Super Bowl events if it passed the anti-transgender bill that was before the legislature. This was taken seriously as tourism represents the second largest industry in the state.
The repeal of basic non-discrimination protections not only poses a threat to Massachusetts’ reputation and ability to attract top talent, it has tremendous national significance becauseit is the nation’s first anti-transgender statewide ballot measure. If the ballot measure repealing basic non-discrimination protections for transgender people passes in Massachusetts,it is certain that our opponents’ victory will open the floodgates of discrimination and thatwe will see similar, dangerous ballot campaigns crop up across the states, which will require additional business investment to combat. Investing in the FFAM campaign now will help ensurea historic, precedent-setting win in Massachusetts, send a clear message to other states,and prevent additional costly fights.