“Bathroom Bills,” religious freedom acts and other legislation that hinders LGBT+ progress have proliferated across the United States since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. Perhaps the most prominent example is last year’s North Carolina HB2, which made international news and contributed to Governor Pat McCrory’s loss in the state’s 2016 gubernatorial election.
The economic cost of LGBT+ discrimination has been severe. According to Forbes, HB2 cost North Carolina’s economy $600 million in 2016 alone. And the state’s reputation as a great place to do business was tarnished, with companies like Deutsche Bank and Paypal cancelling planned expansions or implementing hiring freezes. It’s no surprise then that LGBT+ and business advocates have joined together to promote inclusion in a number of states where anti-LGBT+ bills have been proposed, including in Texas, where the Texas Association of Business estimated that a proposed discriminatory law could cost the state’s GDP $8.5 billion.
According to new research from Texas A&M Professor George B. Cunningham and colleagues, LGBT+ inclusive settings in fact foster creative workplace cultures that allow companies to outperform their competitors. Moreover, customers are more likely to seek out LGBT+ inclusive companies because they believe that such firms are more likely to embrace diversity in other areas, such as race and gender.