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

Individuals can amend gender markers on either birth certificates or driver’s licenses without surgery. Sexual orientation and gender identity fall under the state’s antidiscrimination protections.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy for minors has been banned since 2015. Youths in foster care are protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Illinois does not provide state funding to adoption agencies that discriminate against potential LGBTQ+ parents on religious grounds, but it doesn’t ban agencies from opting to forego that funding to do so.

18.33 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state’s elected officials have long and consistent records of supporting and voting for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion. The state does have a religious exemption law, but it’s balanced out by strong anti-discrimination protections.

18.4 / 20
Health Access & Safety

Hate crimes protections cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Knowing transmission of HIV is considered a felony.* Insurance must cover transgender healthcare, and on January 1, 2020, the state effectively made gender confirmation surgery coverage mandatory under Medicaid.

18 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

18% of transgender employees in Illinois reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 26% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 24% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Illinois reported food insecurity, nearly double the rate among non-LGBTQ+ people (14%). Up to 26% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Illinois reported making less than $24,000 per year. 6% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in Illinois, which is the same rate as that for non-LGBTQ+ people.

13 / 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
  • 4.3% of Illinois residents identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $31.2 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 $10,482 to replace an employee in Illinois, and it can cost up to $490,000 to replace senior executives. Illinois and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Illinois’s nondiscrimination laws protect 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 $24,67 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in Illinois 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 Illinois 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 Illinois, where there are comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections and the state’s governor and senators have strong pro-LGBTQ+ records.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk of LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Illinois in light of the state’s business climate or reputation.
  • 1
    No Risk
Illinois has strong legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, making working there attractive to LGBTQ+ professionals.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in Illinois.
  • 1
    No Risk
While Illinois sees the occasionally discriminatory bill filed, these bills have not become law. The state has statewide nondiscrimination protections and we do not see any risk of a negative event in the foreseeable future.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ people 

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

56% of Illinois residents oppose allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.

74% of Illinois residents favor LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.