General Electric Co., Suffolk Construction, and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, which represents senior executives from big companies, have joined the 250+ business coalition fighting for passage of pro-business transgender non-discrimination legislation, HB 1577/SB 735.
HB 1577/SB 735 would update existing state civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public places like restaurants, shopping malls, doctors offices and public transportation. It’s already illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity in housing and employment.
This announcement comes just one week after major businesses held a Lobby Day at the Statehouse to push lawmakers to stop delaying and take decisive action on the transgender rights legislation.
Today, as the business coalition swells with new sign-ups, 40 long-standing members—including heavyweights like Biogen, Eastern Bank, EMC, Google, Harvard Pilgrim, Hill Holliday, Liberty Mutual, and Partners HealthCare—will deliver an open letter to House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg urging them to bring HB 1577/SB 735 to a vote without delay.
At GE, we have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.
The letter reads, in part, “Promoting equality is not just the right thing to do — it is also good for business. Discriminatory laws make it harder for companies and regions to recruit talented employees, attract customers, and build a thriving economy.”
Nearly all of Massachusetts’ Fortune 500 companies have comprehensive non-discrimination policies on the books. HB 1577/SB 735 merely reinforce what has long been a staple of competitive corporate culture. In fact, increasingly, non-discrimination is a strategic public-facing brand asset, as for General Electric: “At GE, we have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” the company explained on its website.
Across America, businesses are going to the mat for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws—and for one good reason: They’re good for business. Companies rely on non-discrimination protections to attract diverse and skilled labor. And strategic, cutting-edge businesses look for those same laws when making investment decisions.
Promoting equality is not just the right thing to do — it is also good for business.
Non-discrimination protections attract top talent, which thereby attracts top investments—and that’s how state economies grow and compete in a global market place.
While in states like North Carolina and Mississippi, business values of inclusion and diversity have met with resistance from religious conservatives, here in Massachusetts, support for full transgender equality is iron clad across the board.
Just last weekend, 300 faith leaders and 50 congregations participated in a faith weekend of action with dedicated services, letter-writing workshops, and speakers in support of swift passage of HB 1577/SB 735.
Major schools associations and women’s right organizations support the non-discrimination legislation, which flies in the face of transgender rights opponents who claim HB 1577/SB 735 somehow compromises the safety of women and children.
There is also strong support within the Statehouse. Attorney General Maura Healey has been an active advocate for comprehensive transgender non-discrimination since day one, helping to mobilize businesses and launching her own digital campaign (#EveryoneWelcome) in support of HB 1577/SB 735.
— Maura Healey (@MassAGO) April 11, 2016
Senate and House leadership have also said they support the legislation, though Governor Charlie Baker has remained silent on his position. May 2nd is the deadline for a vote; and after the Senate President’s speech to the Boston Chamber today, it sounds likely we’ll see some kind of movement:
Think it’s time to pass #TransBillMA? Click here to rush a message to Gov. Baker calling for his firm commitment to sign the bill and affirm the rights of transgender Bay Staters.