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

New Jersey has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. New Jersey will issue updated birth certificates reflecting a gender of female, male, or undesignated/non-binary, upon receipt of a form signed by the applicant. No medical documentation is required. Changing a gender marker on a driver’s license requires a form signed by a licensed provider.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

The state bans conversion therapy. State law prevents discrimination against and bullying of LGBTQ+ students. It is illegal to discriminate against foster families on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and adoption laws ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. New Jersey adopted a paid Family Leave/Sick Leave law inclusive of LGBTQ+ families in 2019.

18.33 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state’s Governor and U.S. Senators are leaders in championing LGBTQ+ rights in both voting records and public statements. The state does not have a “religious freedom” law.

20 / 20
Health Access & Safety

New Jersey has comprehensive hate crimes protections inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. The state mandates transgender healthcare coverage for all insurance. The state criminalizes knowingly exposing someone to HIV without their consent as a felony.

17 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

9% of transgender employees in New Jersey report being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 18% report mistreatment such as being forced to use a restroom not matching gender. 22% of LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans report food insecurity, compared to 13% of non-LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans. LGBTQ+ unemployment (more than 8%) is just slightly above the general 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
  • New Jersey’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 $18 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there's still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in New Jersey have a business imperative to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • 4.1% of New Jersey residents identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that's LGBTQ+ personal income of $24.7 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 $11,394 to replace an employee in New Jersey, and it can cost up to $497,000 to replace senior executives. New Jersey and the businesses operating there have strong incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • 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 New Jersey 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 brand risk by doing business in New Jersey, which has comprehensive laws protecting LGBTQ+ people and a corresponding great reputation.
  • 1
    No Risk
There’s no reason to believe that LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients would pull business from companies operating in New Jersey, which has recently helped lead the way on LGBTQ+ inclusion.
  • 1
    No Risk
New Jersey has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws and protections, making it a state top LGBTQ+ talent would prioritize.
  • 1
    No Risk
There’s no risk in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in New Jersey.
  • 1
    No Risk
New Jersey has a very limited recent history of negative bills filed, and we would not expect that to change in the foreseeable future. We assess this state as currently having no risk of a negative, headline-making event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

The law allowing trans people to change gender markers without surgery was named after Babs Siperstein, the first trans person to become a DNC member. She died days after the law was passed.

Jersey Pride is entering its 30th year, scheduled for June 2022 . 

Over 200 LGBTQ+ civil rights laws have passed in New Jersey since 2004. According to Garden State Equality, that’s more laws in less time than in any other state in American history.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

The Department of Children and Families, which oversees adoption in New Jersey, is the first state child welfare agency in the US to earn the Seal of Recognition from the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families project. This project is an initiative of the Human Rights Campaign’s Family Project intended to increase the number of prospective adoptive parents by recruiting members of the LGBTQ+ community. The program’s benchmarks include a non-discrimination policy that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; use of inclusive LGBTQ+ language, employee training to work with LGBTQ+ families and individuals and placements of children with LGBTQ+ adoptive parents.

The state’s conversion therapy ban was challenged on First Amendment grounds, but the US Supreme Court declined to take it up. In February 2019, the ban was challenged again when Liberty Counsel petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn it, again on First Amendment grounds.