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.

60.7

out of a possible 100 points

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Legal & Nondiscrimination Protection

While Virginia has no statewide nondiscrimination laws inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, state employees, and residents of some municipalities throughout the state enjoy nondiscrimination protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity. Gender markers can be changed on birth certificates and driver’s licenses without gender affirmation surgery.

12 / 20
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Youth & Family Support

Conversion therapy is legal in Virginia. Adoption agencies can decline to work with LGBT+ people if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. There are no explicit protections for LGBT+ children in foster care.

10.67 / 20
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Political & Religious Attitudes

Virginia’s U.S. Senators and Governor support LGBT+ rights. The state has a religious freedom law, and targeted religious exemptions for child welfare services.

18.4 / 20
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Health Access & Safety

The state’s hate crime protections do not include sexual orientation or gender identity. The state Medicaid plan does include transgender healthcare coverage. Failure to disclose HIV status prior to engaging in sexual activity is a misdemeanor.

5.67 / 20
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Work Environment & Employment

12 % of transgender employees in Virginia report being harassed at work, and 27% report mistreatment such being forced to use a restroom not matching their gender. 27% of LGBT+ Virginians report food insecurity, more than double the rate for non-LGBT+ Virginians (13%).

14 / 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.

Our Methodology
Talking Points
  • 3.9% of Virginians identify as LGBT+. Conservatively, that's LGBT+ personal income of $18.9 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 $10,796 to replace an employee in Virginia, and it can cost up to $486,800 to replace senior executives. Virginia and the businesses operating there have strong 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 Virginia continue to foster a business environment where being inclusive is supported.
  • Virginia has a regressive attitude towards trans people when it comes to healthcare and hate crimes protections. Treating trans people as unequal makes us look complicit if we choose to do business in Virginia – equality is good for everyone's bottom line.
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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
  • 2
    Low Risk
Companies incur low risk to their brands by operating in Virginia, where there are no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination protections, but the governor and senators are vocally pro-LGBT+.
CLIENT RISK
  • 2
    Low Risk
There is low risk of LGBT+ or strong ally clients pulling their business from companies operating in Virginia in light of the state’s business climate and reputation.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
LGBT+ professionals might consider Virginia’s legal and social environment unfriendly. Though insurance must cover transgender healthcare, there is no statewide LGBT+ inclusive nondiscrimination law, and there are religious exemptions in child welfare, both of which could make working in Virginia unattractive to LGBT+ talent.
MARKETING RISK
  • 3
    Moderate Risk
Marketing to the LGBT+ community in Virginia is moderately risky, as attitudes toward LGBT+ people vary widely between urban and rural areas and the political conversation around LGBT+ equality hasn’t made much progress recently.
FUTURE RISK
  • 2
    Low Risk
The state has no recent discriminatory laws on the books, and volume of discriminatory legislation filed has diminished significantly in recent years. The risk of a future negative event is low.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • – There are a multitude of LGBT+ organizations dedicated to expanding protections for the Virginian LGBT+ community. Equality Virginia recently launched a campaign to raise awareness for employment discrimination reform in January 2019.
  • – Equality Virginia highlights that, though the state government falls behind on protections, most of the state’s top 25 private employers utilize hiring practices inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • – Pride season in Virginia occurs across the region and continues through the fall. Many individuals in Northern Virginia have access to the Washington DC pride festivities. Other festivals occur throughout the state, including in Richmond. Corporate sponsors include large banks and insurance companies as well as local businesses.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • – Despite religious exemptions and a lack of policies designed to protect the LGBT+ Community, public opinion in Virginia is in favor of greater equality. According to a 2017 poll, 60% of Virginians are in favor of same-sex marriage, and 69% favor non-discrimination laws covering the LGBT+ community.
  • – That same poll found that only 32% of respondents were in favor of a religious exemption to refuse services to members of the LGBT+ community.