CLEVELAND (Sept. 14, 2017) – More than 200 businesses have joined Ohio Business Competes, a broad, nonpartisan coalition that supports nondiscrimination policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ Ohioans. Ohio Business Competes membership has more than tripled this year, a direct response from employers who know that discrimination is bad for LGBTQ people and bad for the state’s economy.
This morning, Alana Jochum, board member of Ohio Business Competes, and JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), announced this membership milestone, while encouraging businesses of all sizes in Ohio to join the movement.
“It’s shocking but true: Ohio’s laws don’t protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. In fact, in Ohio, it’s generally legal to fire someone because they’re gay, evict someone from their apartment because they’re bisexual, or refuse service to a transgender customer,” said Alana Jochum. “Ohio Business Competes members – representing companies of all sizes from all parts of the state – know that inclusive nondiscrimination laws are good for business.”
“No Ohioans’ fundamental rights should be determined by what city or what county they live in,” said JoDee Winterhof. “The 200 businesses that have joined the Ohio Business Competes coalition have sent a loud and clear message that the time has come for the Ohio General Assembly to finally pass fully inclusive, statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. We applaud these businesses for speaking out in support of equality, and look forward to celebrating with them once every Ohioan is able to live freely without fear of discrimination.”
OBC’s list of member organizations has grown from 60 members earlier this year, and now includes some of the state’s largest employers, such as Procter & Gamble Company, OhioHealth, American Electric Power, KeyBank and General Electric. According to Small Business Majority, 70% of Ohio’s small business owners support inclusive nondiscrimination legislation. However, Ohio is one of 28 states where members of the LGBTQ community can generally be fired or denied housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Representative Nickie Antonio said: “I am thrilled to hear about today’s announcement. Both the sheer numbers and caliber of the businesses that have joined Ohio Business Competes is encouraging. As a legislator who has worked for years on legislation promoting fairness for all LGBTQ+ Ohioans, I see this as a positive step in the right direction. Certainly, the economic benefits of equality for all Ohioans makes the state of Ohio and Ohio businesses competitive on a national and international level. I look forward to working with all of the members of Ohio Business Competes in the future.”
“KeyBank is proud to stand with more than 200 other Ohio businesses and promote workplace equality. Valuing diversity and fostering inclusion is part of our corporate fabric,” said Jason Rudman, EVP, Consumer Payments and Digital Banking & Co-Champion of Key’s LGBTA Business Networking Group. “It’s heartening that so many other Ohio businesses see how anti-discrimination protections will only make our state a better place to live and work while attracting and retaining the right talent and investment to create economic prosperity.”
“United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. We believe in treating all people equally and allowing everybody the opportunity to make an honest living to support their families. We’re proud to stand with many of our corporate and community partners in support of Ohio Business Competes,” said United Way of Greater Lorain County executive director Bill Harper.
“Diversity is one of Squire Patton Boggs’ core values and we are delighted to be a part of Ohio Business Competes and support its work on behalf of the LGBTQ community,” said Michele Connell, Cleveland Managing Partner at Squire Patton Boggs. “Given our longstanding history in Ohio and our proud involvement in landmark equality cases, we stand with all the other members of this coalition in our steadfast commitment to encouraging diverse and inclusive workplaces in order to attract the very best talent to Ohio.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said: “Cuyahoga County supports non-discrimination policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ residents; and, we applaud the efforts of the Ohio Business Competes Coalition, Equality Ohio, and business partners for advancing nondiscrimination efforts based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the State of Ohio. We encourage private investment and public engagement that promotes equality and equity for all Cuyahoga County residents. Together, with the Ohio Business Competes Coalition, we are working to ensure that Cuyahoga County and all of Ohio is open for business!”