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 is a nonbinary gender option for birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Changing gender markers on both of those documents is an easy, straightforward process that doesn’t require surgery. The state has comprehensive nondiscrimination protections inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

20 / 20
Youth & Family Support

It’s illegal for licensed clinicians to practice conversion therapy for minors in the state. Children in foster care are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Adoption agencies are banned from discriminating against potential parents on religious grounds.

17.83 / 20
Political & Religious Attitudes

The state’s Governor and U.S. Senators consistently speak and vote for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion. The state does not have a religious exemption law that allows LGBTQ+ discrimination.

20 / 20
Health Access & Safety

State Medicaid and private insurance providers must cover trans-related healthcare. Exposing someone to HIV can still be prosecuted as a felony, punishable by life in prison.*

15 / 20
Work Environment & Employment

17% of transgender employees in Washington reported being harassed in the past year due to their gender identity, 23% reported mistreatment such as having someone at work share private information about their gender. 25% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Washington reported food insecurity, compared to 12% among non-LGBTQ+ people (12%). Up to 22% of LGBTQ+ individuals in Washington reported making less than $24,000 per year. 10% of LGBTQ+ individuals report unemployment in Washington, compared to 5% of non-LGBTQ+ people.

13 / 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
  • 5.2% of Washingtonians identify as LGBTQ+. Conservatively, that’s LGBTQ+ personal income of $23.8 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 $57,480 to replace an employee in Washington, and it can cost up to $470,000 to replace senior executives. Washington and the businesses operating there have strong financial incentives to create inclusive workplaces in the interest of keeping these costs down.
  • Washington’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%, thanks to its inclusive approach. That said, there’s still a gap between policy and culture, and organizations in Washington have a business imperative to ensure that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome in their workplaces.
  • Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington, 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 Washington, which has publicly prioritizes LGBTQ+ welfare.
  • 1
    No Risk
Washington 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 Washington.
  • 1
    No Risk
Washington state has statewide nondiscrimination protections in place, and a low and declining volume of discriminatory legislation filed in the past few years. We do not see any risk of a negative event in the foreseeable future.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBTQ+ People:

Status of LGBTQ+ Organizing and Community

  • The state’s largest pride event, in Seattle, is 47 years old and attracted some 60,000 people in 2019. It went digital in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus. 
  • A separate organization, Capitol Hill Pride, has an in-person event planned for June 2021.

Cultural Views of the LGBTQ+ Community

  • When a Christian high school in the Seattle metro area got a more vocally conservative leader, at least five teachers quit rather than be complicit in potentially harming students in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • 56% of Washingtonians oppose religious exemptions that would allow small business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
  • 74% of residents favor LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections.