Panel discusses state discrimination bill
Sen. Ben McAdams hosted a panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Utah State Capitol to discuss his proposed law, which seeks to add gender identity and sexual orientation to Utah’s existing list of prohibited discrimination characteristics. The bill has received a wellspring of support from Utah’s business community, including the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The panel was composed of McAdams, Tim Sullivan (CEO of Ancestry), Brandon Pace (general counsel for eBay), Jay Magure (VP of 1-800-Contacts) and Cliff Rosky (Professor of Law, University of Utah). The bottom line, according to the panelists, is that discrimination isn’t just wrong, it’s bad for business.
Each panelist agreed that there is a perception problem outside of Utah, making it difficult for them to recruit and retain the best talent for their companies. That perception, said Magure, “is reality and it creates real harm.”
Pace indicated that his company is planning to add up to 3,000 workers this year and if they can’t bring workers to Utah because of the perception that Utah is intolerant of the LGBTQ community then they’ll be forced to fill those jobs in other places.
McAdams was quick to point out that Utah is a very welcoming and tolerant community, with over 70 percent of citizens supporting statewide housing and employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The panelists agreed, urging the state Legislature to enact the proposed law in order to send a clear message to people and businesses around the country: Utah doesn’t tolerate discrimination.
Currently there are 21 states and over 300 municipalities in the United States that include sexual orientation and gender identity as part of nondiscrimination protections. More than half of America’s Fortune 500 have such policies in place, including major Utah employers such as Adobe, American Express, Zions Bank, and the companies involved in the panel: eBay, 1-800-Contacts, and Ancestry.