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

There are no statewide antidiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Changing gender markers on a birth certificate or driver’s license requires a signed clinician statement attesting that a gender transition is complete and permanent.

12.50 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy is legal in North Dakota. Adoption agencies can discriminate against potential LGBTQ+ parents on religious grounds. Youths in foster care have antidiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.

15.17 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

U.S. Senators and the Governor in North Dakota have records of speaking and voting against LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion. There is no religious exemption law in the state.

9.20 / 20
Health Access & Safety

Trans-related healthcare is specifically excluded from state employee insurance plans, and it’s not a protected benefit in private insurance or Medicaid. There are no statewide hate crimes protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and transmitting body fluids with a known HIV-positive status can be prosecuted as a felony.*

8 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

Approximately 13% of transgender employees in North Dakota reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and approximately 19% report mistreatment such as being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep a job. 15% of LGBTQ+ individuals in North Dakota reported food insecurity, almost double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (9%). Up to 23% of LGBTQ+ individuals in North Dakota reported making less than $24,000 per year. 1% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in North Dakota, less than the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (3%).

17 / 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
  • 2.7% of North Dakota residents identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $1.1 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 $9,626 to replace an employee in North Dakota, and it can cost up to $ 368,277 to replace senior executives. North Dakota and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Nondiscrimination policies allow LGBTQ+ people to participate more fully in the economy.
  • 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 North Dakota continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • State leaders should set a welcoming, not a stigmatizing tone.
  • North Dakota has a regressive attitude towards trans-inclusive health coverage. Treating trans people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in North Dakota – equality is good for everyone’s bottom line.
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

  • 5
    High Risk
Companies incur high risk to their brands by operating in North Dakota. There are no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections, the state’s governor and senators have negative voting records on LGBTQ+ issues, and adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against potential LGBTQ+ parents
  • 4
    Notable Risk
There is notable risk of LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in North Dakota in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
LGBTQ+ professionals are likely to consider North Dakota’s legal and social environment unfriendly. There is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, no hate LGBTQ+ hate crimes protections, no trans healthcare coverage protections, and adoption agencies can discriminate against LGBTQ+ adoptive parents on religious grounds. All of this makes working in North Dakota unattractive to LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 5
    High Risk
There is notable risk involved in marketing to the LGBTQ+ community in North Dakota, where there is no statewide LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected under state hate crimes legislation, and no statewide restrictions exist on the practice of conversion therapy.
  • 4
    Notable Risk
The state has a discriminatory law on the books related to child welfare, but a very low overall volume of discriminatory legislation filed. We assess this state as having a notable risk of a future negative event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

There are at least four annual pride events held throughout the state. The largest are Capital Pride in Bismarck, and Fargo-Moorhead Pride.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

North Dakota has the second-lowest LGBTQ+ population in the country. The only state with a lower percentage is South Dakota.

Consistent with nationwide trends, though, a much higher percentage of teens in the state – about 9% – identify as LGBTQ+.

43% of North Dakotans oppose allowing small businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.

71% of North Dakotans favor LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination legislation.