LGBTQ+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBTQ+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBTQ+ people residing in each state, quantifying the economic imperatives for inclusion and the costs of discrimination. It equips business leaders and policymakers with a clear sense of the most impactful steps states can take to make themselves more hospitable to forward-thinking, innovative, inclusive businesses.


out of a possible 100 points

Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

Applicants can change gender markers on birth certificates and driver’s licenses by filling out a request form. The state has strong comprehensive discrimination protections, including protections for employment and housing.

19 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy for minors is illegal. Youths in foster care are covered by comprehensive discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

18.5 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

California has a Governor and U.S. Senators with long and consistent records of voting for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion. There are currently no laws allowing for religious exemptions from civil rights law.

18 / 20
Health Access & Safety

California recently modernized its HIV criminal laws bringing them in-line with current science and ending discriminatory HIV exceptionalism.* Under the new law, intentional transmission of HIV or other serious communicable disease to another person is a misdemeanor. The new law requires conduct involving a substantial risk of transmission and clarifies that “intention to transmit” HIV or any other serious communicable disease means that the individual did not take any practical means to prevent transmission, such as using a condom or being on treatment.” All medically necessary care must be covered by insurance in the state, which includes transgender healthcare.

16 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

13% of transgender employees in California report being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 22% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 20% of LGBTQ+ individuals in California report food insecurity, while only 14% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals do so. Up to 23% of LGBTQ+ individuals in California report making less than $24,000 per year. 9% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in California, slightly higher than the non-LGBTQ+ rate (7%).

15 / 20
A Note on Methodology

Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index for the 50 U.S. States, with important details about our methodology, including our data standards and practices. NOTE: *HIV criminalization laws are discriminatory and ineffective. These laws fail to account for advances made in treating and controlling HIV, may deter people from getting tested and seeking treatment, and can exacerbate the stigma targeting people living with HIV and LGBTQ+ people.

Our Methodology
Talking Points
  • 5.3% of Californians identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $131 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • When LGBTQ+ employees don’t feel welcome at work, they’re less likely to stay, and employee turnover is a drag on the state economy and business competitiveness. It costs companies an average of $11,438 to replace an employee in California, and it can cost up to $486,215 to replace senior executives. California and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.”
  • California’s comprehensive nondiscrimination law protects LGBTQ+ people, so the state is already experiencing the positive economic impacts of such policies. One estimate suggests that the state’s economy may have grown 3%, or $83.9 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in California have a business imperative to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • California has a favorable economic environment for business investment – but taking steps to make LGBTQ+ people feel safer and more included would better enable companies to attract top LGBTQ+ talent.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with companies with LGBTQ+ friendly advertising and policies – 54% say they’re more likely to choose an LGBTQ+ inclusive brand over a competitor – which is why it’s important that California continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
Impact of LGBTQ+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    No Risk
  • 2
    Low Risk
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
  • 4
    Notable Risk
  • 5
    High Risk

For more context around these scores, and to learn more about the criteria we used to assess how state laws, actions and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people create business and talent risks, please visit

  • 1
    No Risk
Companies incur no risk to their brands by operating in California, where there are comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and the state’s governor and senators have strong pro-LGBTQ+ records.
  • 1
    No Risk
California has strong legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, making working there attractive to LGBTQ+ professionals.
  • 1
    No Risk
Washington has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws and protections, making it a state top LGBTQ+ talent would prioritize.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in California.
  • 1
    No Risk
The state has comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in place and there seems to be low appetite to pursue discriminatory legislation. We currently see no risk of a future negative event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

San Francisco is the U.S. city with the largest LGBTQ+ community – about 15% of San Franciscans identify as LGBTQ+.

There are at least 22 annual Pride festivals in cities around the state.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

76% of Californians support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

60% of Californians oppose religious exemptions that allow for discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.