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

The state has strong discrimination laws, and in January 2020 it became the third state with 3 gender options (M, F, X) and self-attestation for all state IDs.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Same-sex couples must be married or in a civil union to petition to adopt. Youths in foster care are protected on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but potential adoptive parents can’t be ruled out for their religious beliefs. Conversion therapy for minors is prohibited.

18.33 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state has an openly gay governor and two U.S. Senators with a consistent record of voting for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion. There are currently no laws allowing for religious exemptions from civil rights law.

18 / 20
Health Access & Safety

The threshold for HIV criminalization has grown much higher under current Governor Jared Polis, but there are still legal repercussions for sexually transmitting the virus.* The state’s hate crime protections cover sexuality and trans-specific status but don’t mention gender identity. Transgender healthcare is covered both under the state’s Medicaid plan and by private insurers.

16 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

11% of transgender employees in Colorado reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 31% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 24% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Colorado reported food insecurity, double that of their non-LGBTQ+ peers (12%). Up to 21% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Colorado reported making less than $24,000 per year. Approximately 6% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in Colorado, which is higher than the rate of their non-LGBTQ+ peers (4%).

14 / 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
  • 4.6% of Coloradoans identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $14.9 billion – 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 $10,810 to replace an employee in Colorado, and it can cost up to $422,000 to replace senior executives. Colorado and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Colorado’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 $10.4 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in Colorado have a business imperative to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • 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 Alaska continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • 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 Colorado 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

  • 2
    Low Risk
Companies incur low risk to their brands by operating in Colorado, where there are strong nondiscrimination protections, but “gender identity” is not specifically mentioned in hate crimes protections.
  • 1
    No Risk
There’s no reason to believe that LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients would pull business from companies operating in Colorado, which has recently helped lead the way on exemplary gender marker change policies.
  • 1
    No Risk
Colorado has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws and protections, making it an appealing state for top LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 1
    No Risk
There’s no risk in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado.
  • 2
    Low Risk
While some discriminatory bills are filed every session, state lawmakers appear to have little appetite for advancing discriminatory legislation, and statewide nondiscrimination protections are in place. The risk of a future negative event is low.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

77% of Coloradans favor anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community, according to the 2018 American Values Atlas.

More than half of survey respondents opposed allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds, which is what the Supreme Court allowed to stand in the state in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

Denver PrideFest, which happens each June, is the largest celebration of LGBTQ+ pride in the Rocky Mountain region. The 2019 event topped 425,000 attendees. It moved online-only for 2020 due to the coronavirus, and a hybrid version is slated for 2021.

The Gill Foundation, which funds pro-equality initiatives, is headquartered in Denver, and devotes an entire funding arm to increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion in the state.

Mile High Freedom Bands, in its 36th year, is a Denver-based musical organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community through its performances.