Indiana's RFRA 'Fix' Doesn't End Discrimination

Reprinted with permission by the author from LinkedIn


By Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak,Global Vice Chair, Public Policy; Diversity and Inclusiveness sponsor at EY

You know the old saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.” Well, with all eyes on Indiana due to the recent national firestorm over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the “fix” is merely a first step. At least when Indiana found itself in a crater of its own making, it stopped digging.

As a business leader who is gay, I am aware that I can be thrown in prison in some countries to which I travel. And in the U.S., 52 percent of LGBT population still lives in states where we can be fired based on our sexual orientation or gender identity.

Prior to Indiana’s RFRA, I would never have thought of the possibility of being refused service in a restaurant in Indianapolis where I began my career. After all, I was born and grew up in Kokomo. My Hoosier heritage taught me the value of humility, hard work and the importance of kindness. Nobody was any better than their neighbor, and, based on these common beliefs, we all respected and valued each other.

As we all now know, the national firestorm over RFRA brought new and powerful players onto the field some of Indiana’s largest employers joined conventions, churches and sports-events organizations to register their protest. Many global corporations issued statements about the inadvisability of this legislation. As a result of this intense economic pressure, the act was amended to make clear that businesses and individuals cannot refuse service or goods to people based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other reasons.

But the sad reality is that the “fix” actually just returns Indiana to where things stood before RFRA LGBT discrimination in the workplace is permissible throughout most of the state.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for Indiana to take a bold stand and influence the rest of the country. Look at the impact the situation in Indiana had in Arkansas. It sure looks like the economic onslaught in Indiana influenced the Arkansas governor to veto a similar piece of legislation. So can you imagine the impact if Indiana not only “fixed” RFRA, but also announced a state-wide law that forbids LGBT discrimination in any form

Indiana has the chance to really lead here most Americans are not fully aware that in 29 states people can still be fired for being gay. But with national attention firmly fixed on Indiana, this is the time to make it clear that discrimination cannot ever be legal in the US.

As I said in a speech I gave before the Economic Club of Indiana on Nov. 12, 2013, and as I will say again, Indiana refuses to be inclusive at its own economic peril.

Even more impactful than the threat of withdrawal of companies and events is the insidious effect a lack of anti-discrimination legislation can have on Indiana’s workforce and on its ability to compete in an increasingly globalized economy.

Because in the 21st century globalized world, difference matters and it matters a whole lot to Indiana. Winning companies of the future and winning regions of the future will be those that attract, retain, and grow the best talent at every level from the playing field to the workplace to the boardroom. And like every other place in the world, Indiana must compete for talent.

Back in a 2010 interview, EY’s Chairman was asked how he had come to focus so much on diversity and inclusiveness. He responded by saying, “We are in the service business. We have no equipment, no machinery, no fixed assets, no inventory. All we have are our ideas and people. Every one of our assets goes home every night. We need to be the kind of place they want to come back to the next morning.”

Talent is only going to want to come back to you the next morning and stay with you if they feel like their perspectives and opinions matter. Talent will leave not just the job, but the state that discriminates against them and dismisses their importance.

Talent good talent that likes to have its opinions and views embraced as opposed to rejected will not want to work in a culture that disrespects difference.

Difference matters and everyone is different. This isn’t about “them” some nebulous them. It is about “us.” All of us. And we are all different. And all of us have a right to contribute to improving an economy in which we all can thrive.

I have always been proud of my Hoosier heritage. I know Indiana can do better than this and seize the chance to lead the nation there is still time, but it is passing. And without bold action, the state’s economy will struggle to remain competitive, both in the U.S. and across the globe. Will Indiana have the courage to lead, now

This article originally appeared here on IndyStar.com with the headline: “My view: The ‘fix’ is only a first step.”

Latest News

NBCUniversal News Group Launches NBCU Academy, Offering Training to Universities and Community Colleges

NBCUniversal News Group launched NBCU Academy, a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program for four-year university and community college students through education, on-campus training and online programming. Originally published on corporate.comcast.com. The initiative includes a curated onsite curriculum for hands-on learning experience with world-class NBCU News Group journalists,…

Kaiser

Kaiser Permanente: Committing $8.15M for Racial Equity

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Grants to grassroots and nonprofit organizations will help address structural racism and practices that prevent communities of color from achieving good health and well-being. Kaiser Permanente (DiversityInc Hall of Fame), the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health system, has awarded $8.15 million to support dozens of nonprofit…

Toyota Research Institute and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab Study How to Improve Automotive Safety

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. Inspired by the Skills of Professional Drift Drivers, Research Seeks to Combine the Technology of Vehicle Automation with Artificial Intelligence Algorithms What if every driver who ran into trouble had the instinctive reflexes of a professional race car driver and the calculated foresight of a supercomputer…

Tribal elder

Loss of Tribal Elders Due to COVID-19 Decimating Indigenous Populations; Colorado Revamps Common-Law Marriage Requirements, Making Them More Friendly for LGBTQ Couples; and More

Loss of tribal elders due to COVID-19 decimating Indigenous populations. The Muscogee, Navajo, Blackfeet Nation, White Mountain Apache and Choctaw tribes are among the many communities of Indigenous people suffering irreparable losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Times reporter Jack Healy has reported. Already impacted by infection rates…

Justice for George Floyd

Officer Who Pressed Knee Into George Floyd’s Neck to Stand Trial Alone; Judge Halts Federal Execution of Lisa Montgomery, Only Woman on Death Row

Officer who pressed knee into George Floyd’s neck to stand trial alone in March. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — the man who can be seen on video pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for an excruciating 8 minutes and 46 seconds — will now stand trial alone,…

BASF Starts Global Registration for New and Environmentally Friendly Insecticide Active Ingredient

Originally published on BASF.com. BASF ranked No. 14 on The 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Regulatory dossiers for Axalion™insecticide submitted in Australia and Korea Active ingredient with novel mode of action and high compatibility with beneficial insects, including pollinators First sales for Axalion-based products expected by 2023…

TIAA’s Roger Ferguson on Solving the Student Debt Crisis

CEO Roger Ferguson shares how TIAA (No. 9 on 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) teamed up with loan wellness platform Savi to help nonprofit workers reduce monthly student debt payments and work toward forgiveness. Watch his full talk at the link below. https://www.tiaa.org/public/foward-focus-/episode-7-your-financial-future-the-path-forward