Out Leadership just unveiled its grades for all 50 states on how well (or not) each state’s legislative policies and social attitudes provide a safe and empowering living environment for LGBT employees and residents contributing to the state’s economy.
The state topping The Business Climate Index is Massachusetts — the Northeastern state is strongest when it comes to making LGBT employees and residents feel most comfortable with their economic contributions. California ranked second and Connecticut ranked third.
“Companies that are doing business within those states are very aware of the economic impact of LGBT inclusion,” said Out Leadership founder Todd Sears during an interview with Yahoo Finance On the Move.“They’re weighing in. They’re using their economic power to say that anti-LGBT legislation is bad for business and that LGBT inclusion is good for business.”
Mississippi came in last place, scoring 31.17 out of 100, on the index. The Business Climate Index uses five main factors to measure a state’s index total: legal and nondiscrimination protections, youth and family support, political and religious attitudes, health access and safety, work environment and employment.
Out Leadership is working to help businesses and corporations better understand how to respond to the potential discriminatory factors that could impact employees of the LGBT community. The certified B Corp. recently unveiled CEO Business Briefs, research on how to be more inclusive to LGBT employees. The research is available to C-suite leaders in 21 countries across the world, including the U.S. in states like Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia.
“If a company is good for LGBT people in general, if they are inclusive at a bottom line, it’s going to impact and help everyone whether they’re trans, or intersex, or gender non-binary,” said Sears.
What companies need to do
Sears noted that controversial factors that could cause a company to face public backlash has shifted over time.
“I think companies 10 years ago would be very circumspect about speaking out,” he said. “What we see now is companies that don’t speak out actually receive much more of a backlash.”
“When we see quote on quote religious objections or religious strikes or folks trying to have economic impact from a religious perspective, boycotting Starbucks for example, we see that it actually has minimal impact where 10 years ago it would. But what we see is employees now, millennials in particular, actually expect their companies to speak out on these rights.”
Sears also noted how important it was for businesses to acknowledge and embrace a ‘return on equality.’
“We find that companies that really have the CEO level down, that own all of those practices make the most progress. So, it’s not about having something separate. It is about having something woven. It’s the fabric of the company,” Sears said. “But there are demonstrable bottom line impacts of inclusion, and companies that really own that I think succeed.”
Marabia Smith is a producer for Yahoo Finance.