With the LGBTQ+ community continuing to come under increasing attacks heading into the 2024 presidential election season, the first openly LGBTQ+ U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined Out Leadership, the premier global LGBTQ+ organization that focuses on harnessing the power of business to drive equality, a call to action for LGBTQ+ and allied individuals to “preserve our progress, defend our rights, and ensure our society moves forward, not backward.”
Citing last year’s Out Leadership 2023 State LGBTQ+ Climate Index measuring the first-ever decline in the nationwide climate for LGBTQ+ equality, Senator Baldwin spoke out authoring a guest column appearing in Out Leadership’s OutNEWS weekly newsletter warning of the high stakes for equality and diversity in the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. She went on to encourage LGBTQ+ individuals to “stay involved, stay active, and work alongside your community to preserve” equality.
Against a backdrop of hundreds of anti-equality bills in the last legislative season targeting the LGBTQ+ community, many introduced by a vocal minority of politicians advancing an “anti-woke” agenda meant to dismantle progress made on diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace, Senator Baldwin and Out Leadership joined together to raise awareness of what is at stake in this year’s elections and warned of the fragility of many LGBTQ+ advancements over the last decade should these politicians gain power.
Appearing in OutNEWS – Out Leadership’s weekly online newsletter distributed to over 20,000 CEOs, board members, business leaders, LGBTQ+ advocates, and allies – Senator Baldwin wrote:
“As our country’s first openly gay U.S. Senator, I want to emphasize the importance of 2024 for the LGBTQ+ community. Right now, we’re seeing a proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks across the country at every level of government. The ACLU is currently tracking over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills making their way through legislatures this year and for the first time, the Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people, and Out Leadership’s 2023 State LGBTQ+ Climate Index measured the first-ever decline in the nationwide climate for LGBTQ+ equality.”
“The threat to LGBTQ+ equality in 2024 has never been more clear, with all the advancements achieved in the last decade at risk. With rollbacks of our rights already happening at the state level, the business community must stand as a bulwark against the damage anti-equality policies will inflict upon our economy and our communities,” said Todd Sears, Founder and CEO of Out Leadership. “As our State LGBTQ+ Climate Index shows, states like Florida are mortgaging their economic futures for cheap political points. Don’t Say Gay-style censorship laws, policies targeting gender-affirming care, and bans on drag performances are needlessly hampering the education of our children, the health of our families, and businesses’ ability to operate without unnecessary government interference. These anti-equality, anti-business policies are already producing a devastating impact – top talent is moving out, families are fleeing for better environments for their children, and the state is losing out on millions of dollars in tourism and investment.”
During June’s LGBTQ+ Pride month last year, Out Leadership released its 2023 State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, highlighting the best and worst states for LGBTQ+ rights and the impact of LGBTQ+ discrimination on the economy. For the first time, the Index showed a drop of -1.14 percent in the average score across the country, due to a handful of states implementing increased restrictions on the LGBTQ+ community.
“Despite the actions of a vocal minority of anti-equality politicians, America’s business community is fully embracing LGBTQ+ equality, as evidenced by more than 80% of LGBTQ+ professionals reporting feeling comfortable being out at work today. Businesses are making concrete investments in policies promoting diversity and inclusion – even if they are doing so under the radar – because doing so benefits their bottom lines and helps retain workers in an increasingly competitive global marketplace” concluded Sears.
Over the past decade, Sears and Out Leadership have continued to advocate for LGBTQ+ access and equality in the boardroom and throughout employee ranks. As a result, research shows a clear trend in corporate America demonstrating concrete commitments toward full LGBTQ+ inclusion, including:
- The largest ever global talent survey, Out to Succeed 2.0, showing more LGBTQ+ employees feel comfortable being out at work.
- Critical developments around CSR in the Return on Equality ESG report, as more companies are reporting LGBTQ+ diversity in their reporting.
- The groundbreaking board diversity report, 2023 OutOUORUM: Progress & Possibility, illustrating an overall increase in boardroom diversity, including LGBTQ+ diversity.
Sears continues to advocate a strong intersection of LGBTQ+ equality and business, and how Out Leadership has partnered with over 100 of the world’s largest companies to advance LGBTQ+ equality initiatives worldwide. He recently joined The Lean to the Left podcast to discuss these issues, including the state of LGBTQ+ affairs in the United States and around the world.