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

It’s easy and straightforward to update the gender markers on a birth certificate or a driver’s license. The state has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy to minors is illegal in the state. It’s illegal to discriminate against children on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Adoption agencies are banned from using religion to discriminate against potential LGBTQ+ parents.

17.7 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state has a Governor and U.S. Senators who consistently speak and vote in favor of equality and inclusion. Rhode Island has had a religious exemption law since 1993.

17.2 / 20
Health Access & Safety

All insurance providers in Rhode Island must cover transgender healthcare. The state offers comprehensive hate crimes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. HIV is not criminalized.*

16 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

15% of transgender employees in Rhode Island reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, and 16% report mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 24% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Rhode Island reported food insecurity, close to double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (17%). Up to 28% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Rhode Island reported making less than $24,000 per year. 9% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in Rhode Island, almost double the rate for non-LGBTQ+ people (5%).

14 / 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
  • 4.5% of Rhode Islanders identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $2.6 billion – it’s a market my business can’t afford to ignore.
  • Rhode Island’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 $1.78 billion, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in Rhode Island have a business imperative to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • Rhode Island has a favorable economic environment for business investment – but taking steps to make LGBTQ+ people feel safer and more included would better enable companies to attract top LGBTQ+ talent.
  • 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 Rhode Island 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 brand risk by doing business in Rhode Island, which has comprehensive laws protecting LGBTQ+ people and a correspondingly great reputation.
  • 1
    No Risk
There’s no reason to believe that LGBTQ+ or strong ally clients would pull business from companies operating in Rhode Island.
  • 1
    No Risk
Rhode Island has comprehensive nondiscrimination laws and protections, making it a state top LGBTQ+ talent would prioritize.
  • 1
    No Risk
There is no risk to marketing to Rhode Island’s LGBTQ+ community.
  • 1
    No Risk
The state has comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in place and there seems to be no appetite to pursue discriminatory legislation. We see no risk of a negative event.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

Rhode Island has had a pride event since 1976. It now draws about 60,000 people annually and is scheduled to be held in June 2022.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

After the state’s bishop tweeted against Pride Month, Rhode Island Pride, the Governor, and various Catholic clergy in the state condemned his comments.

The Rhode Island Foundation, which gives community grants in the state, has a 15-year-old initiative focused on awarding monies to LGBTQ+ initiatives in the state. The Equity Action Fund gives out about $50,000 a year.