LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s Business Climate Index for the 50 United States is an assessment of states’ performance on LGBT+ inclusion. It measures the impact government policies and prevalent attitudes have on the LGBT+ 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.

52.8

out of a possible 100 points

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Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

It’s straightforward to change gender markers on a birth certificate, and the process does not require surgery. There are statewide anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT+ community.

9.8 / 20
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Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy remains legal in Montana. Youths in foster care are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity. Religious adoption agencies can include religious concerns when placing children.

10 / 20
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Political & Religious Attitudes

The Governor and one of the state’s U.S. Senators have solid records of advocating and voting for equality and inclusion. The second Senator does not. There is no religious exemptions law in the state.

16 / 20
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Health Access & Safety

There are no hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Knowingly exposing someone to HIV or AIDS can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.* Medicaid covers trans healthcare but there’s no requirement that other insurers in the state do so.

10 / 20
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Work Environment & Employment

15% of transgender employees in Montana reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 29% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 37% of LGBT+ individuals in Montana reported food insecurity, almost triple the rate for non-LGBT+ people (13%). Up to 37% of LGBT+ individuals in Montana reported making less than $24,000 per year. 7% of LGBT+ individuals report unemployment in Montana, almost double the rate for non-LGBT+ people (4%).

7 / 20
A Note on Methodology

Download this report to learn how and why Out Leadership created the LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people.

Our Methodology
Talking Points
  • 2.9% of Montanans identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that’s LGBT+ personal income of $1.45 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 $8,480 to replace an employee in Montana, and it can cost up to $282,000 to replace senior executives. Montana and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Nondiscrimination policies allow LGBT+ people to participate more fully in the economy.
  • 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 Montana continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
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Impact of LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people create business and talent risks, please visit www.outleadership.com/staterisk.

BRAND RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
Companies incur moderate risk to their brands by operating in Montana. The governor and one senator are vocally pro-LGBT+, while the other senator has an anti-LGBT+ voting record.
CLIENT RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
There is moderate risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Montana in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
LGBT+ talent might consider Montana’s legal and social environment unfriendly. There are no statewide nondiscrimination and hate crimes protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, both of which could make working in Wisconsin unattractive to LGBT+ professionals.
MARKETING RISK
  • 4
    Notable Risk
There is notable risk involved in marketing to the LGBT+ community in Montana.
FUTURE RISK
  • 1
    No Risk
With a divided government, no discriminatory laws on the books, and scant few discriminatory bills filed over the years, there seems to be little appetite for such policy at this time. We assess no current risk of a negative event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

The state’s annual Big Sky Pride parade drew about 1,000 people for its 26th anniversary in 2019.

Free and Fair Montana, an LGBT+ activist group in the state, helped defeat a potential ballot measure in 2018 that would have brought a bathroom bill to a popular vote. Campaign organizers subsequently created the organization Transvisible to continue advocating for the transgender and nonbinary community in Montana.

Montana’s Native American communities play an important role as the largest community of color in the state. The Native American vote was instrumental in getting Democratic Senator John Tester re-elected to the Senate and the Montana Two Spirit Society is the only People-of-Color LGBT organization in Montana that has provided community building and advocacy for its Native two spirit community for 25 years.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

Billings, the largest city in Montana, defeated a proposed antidiscrimination ordinance in 2014. The mayor who cast the deciding vote objected to the idea of nondiscrimination in bathrooms and locker rooms. A city councilor reintroduced the idea in September 2019 but had determined by the following month that there wasn’t enough support to move forward.

51% of Montanans oppose allowing religious exemptions for small businesses.

72% of Montanans favor LGBT+ non-discrimination protections.