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

Gender marker changes on birth certificates require a doctor’s signature but no surgery. Changing them on a driver’s license requires a name change and a gender designation form signed by a doctor, but the latter requirement goes away in 2020.

16 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy for minors was banned in 2018. There’s no explicit language preventing same-sex couples wishing to adopt from experiencing discrimination on religious grounds. Science-based sexual health education in Hawaii’s public schools is sporadic and minimal. School health nurses are not allowed to distribute condoms.

16 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

Both of Hawaii’s U.S. Senators and its governor have a long track record of speaking and voting for pro-LGBT+ causes. Hawaii’s Governor David Ige is a Shin Buddhist, as is Senator Mazie Hirono. The remainder of the Congressional delegation is split between Judaism, Hindu, and mainline Protestant Christian (Representative Case), who has a long and strong record of pro-LGBT votes, including when the state was vociferously debating same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, there is still a deeply conservative current in Hawaii’s social and religious fabric, much of it given force by fundamentalist Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Mormonism.

20 / 20
Health Access & Safety

The state has hate crimes protections that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. State and private insurance are both banned from discriminating against LGBT+ people and must cover transgender-related healthcare. HIV exposure is not criminalized.* Unfortunately, there’s a deep-seated culture of homophobia in state and local law enforcement that hasn’t been adequately addressed.

20 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

14% of transgender employees in Hawaii reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 22% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 37% of LGBT+ individuals in Hawaii report food insecurity, more than double that of the non-LGBT+ population (14%). Up to 25% of LGBT+ individuals in Hawaii report making less than $24,000 per year. 3% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Hawaii, notably less than the rate among non-LGBT+ people (5%).

12 / 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 Hawaiians identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that’s LGBT+ personal income of $3.56 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • When LGBT+ 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 $10,410 to replace an employee in Hawaii, and it can cost up to $429,578 to replace senior executives. Hawaii and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Hawaii’s comprehensive nondiscrimination law protects LGBT+ 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 $2.65 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in Hawaii have a business imperative to ensure that LGBT+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with companies with LGBT+ friendly advertising and policies – 54% say they’re more likely to choose an LGBT+ inclusive brand over a competitor – which is why it’s important that Hawaii 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 www.outleadership.com/staterisk.

  • 1
    No Risk
Companies incur no risk to their brands by operating in Hawaii, where there are comprehensive LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and the state’s governor and senators have strong pro-LGBT+ records.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Hawaii in light of the state’s business climate or reputation.
  • 1
    No Risk
Hawaii has strong legal protections for LGBT+ people, making working there attractive to LGBT+ professionals.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk involved in marketing to the LGBT+ community in Hawaii.
  • 1
    No Risk
Hawaii has a trifecta Democratic-controlled state government and has had no discriminatory bills filed in the past two years. The state has statewide nondiscrimination protections in place. We assess no risk of negative, discriminatory events at this time.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

Honolulu’s annual pride parade celebrated its 29th year in October 2019. The 2019 parade had a record of over 30,000 attendees. Whether or not there will be an in-person 30th anniversary parade is still undecided due to the coronavirus.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

64% of Hawaiians oppose allowing small business owners to discriminate against LGBT+ people on religious grounds.

73% of Hawaiians support LGBT+ anti-discrimination laws.