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!”
Hyland, a leading provider of content services software solutions for managing content, processes and cases, has joined the Ohio Business Competes coalition, a non-partisan coalition of businesses committed to achieving nondiscrimination policies.
Hyland appreciates the diversity of its customer, partner and employee community, incorporating inclusive, nondiscriminatory policies and procedures to support its thriving and diverse business. The content services provider prides itself on treating every individual with integrity and respect.
“I’ve always been proud of the inclusive environment at our organization where employees respect and support each other entirely,” said Debbie Connelly, vice president of human resources at Hyland. “Hyland’s core values align perfectly with Ohio Business Competes’, illustrating our commitment to nondiscrimination and promoting a supportive culture for all employees, customers and partners.”
Many of Ohio’s top employers share Ohio Business Competes’ inclusive values. Of the state’s top 98 employers, identified by JobsOhio, over 80 have inclusive and nondiscrimination policies in place, ensuring the best and brightest talent call Ohio home. Businesses overwhelmingly report that such policies cost next to nothing and help drive a competitive edge.
“For Ohio to be competitive in the marketplace, our state needs to reflect inclusive business practices,” said Alana Jochum, board member of Ohio Business Competes. “Hyland sets a great example for other Ohio-based organizations to see the business benefits of joining the Ohio Business Competes coalition in support of inclusive, statewide nondiscrimination policies.”
To search available career opportunities at Hyland visit Hyland.com/Careers.
United Church Homes has joined Ohio Business Competes and the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, a coalition of employers and religious organizations statewide that want to end discrimination against the LGBT community and support nondiscrimination legislation.
UCH is one of more than 60 companies to make a commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign and several dozen religious organizations to support the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, according to Equality Ohio.
“United Church Homes is an organization that values, respects and is inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, sexual identity or sexual orientation,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “Too often, LGBT employees face discrimination in the workplace and are fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. United Church Homes stands with the LGBT community, businesses, organizations and all of those who support equality for everyone.”
Ohio is one of 28 states where members of the LGBT community can be fired or denied housing based on their sexual orientation or identity.
Rep. Nickie Antonio, Ohio’s first openly gay legislator, in March reintroduced a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing or public accommodations.
“UCH is standing up for its thousands of residents and every LGBTQ person in Ohio. We are proud to have UCH as part of our coalition –– which is growing everyday. Together, we can make Ohio a state that is welcoming to everyone,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Oho, the organization behind Ohio Business Competes.
UCH is a national nonprofit, faith-based senior living provider with more than 1,500 dedicated staff serving 4,500 residents of all faiths in 69 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations.
In May 2012, United Church Homes declared the organization Open and Affirming (ONA) to the LGBT community and has made advocacy for LGBT seniors a priority.
Open and Affirming is an official designation of congregations, campus ministries, and other organizations affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) that make a public covenant of welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, the new executive director of the United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, said the ONA designation makes UCH different from other church-affiliated organizations.
She also said it’s important to allow employees to be who they are.
“It’s as much about our residents as it is about our employees,” Long-Higgins said.
United Church of Christ backs effort in Ohio to ban LGBTQ discrimination at work, housing or in public
The United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination of almost 1 million members headquartered in Cleveland, is joining Ohio corporations and businesses in a coalition working to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Ohio. The church’s commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign — as its only faith-based organization — comes as Ohio cities are passing their own non-discrimination measures and the State legislature is being asked to reconsider passing a bill to ban bias in Ohio.
Rep. Nickie Antonio from Lakewood, Ohio, the first openly-gay state politician, reintroduced a bill on March 23 that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, in housing or in public accommodations. For years, Ohio Republicans have declined to address legislation to protect LGBTQ people from this type of discrimination.
Eight out of 10 Ohioans believe firing someone over their sexual orientation is illegal. Right now, it’s not. The UCC is one of four dozen Ohio organizations looking to change that.
“The United Church of Christ takes seriously the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. We envision a just world for all. We cannot take that deep religious commitment seriously while ignoring the shameful discrimination experienced by our LGBT family, especially when that discrimination is authored by the state and enforced by law,” said the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, United Church of Christ general minister and president.
“We chose to move our headquarters to Cleveland. We are proud of our move here to Ohio, and feel that we owe it to our community to align with advocates for the rights of all this state’s citizens regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he continued.
“To be a part of a faith community is to have a spiritual home. For many LGBTQ people in Ohio, United Church of Christ is that home. This isn’t incidental; it’s because the very makeup of the church is welcoming to all,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, the organization behind the coalition. “That defines the UCC for me, and I am so very happy they support ending legal discrimination against LGBTQ people in Ohio.”
Jackie Borchardt from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, Democratic state legislators said Ohio needs to do more to ensure all in the state are treated fairly in the eyes of the law.
A trio of Democrat-sponsored anti-discrimination bills has not seen much action at the Republican-controlled Statehouse. Bill sponsors Reps. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Denise Driehaus of Cincinnati and Debbie Phillips of Albany on Friday called on GOP leaders to schedule hearings on the bills when lawmakers return from summer break.
Equitas Health (formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio) is a not-for-profit community-based healthcare system founded in 1984. Its expanded mission will make it one of the nation’s largest HIV/lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) healthcare organizations.
It serves more than 45,000 individuals in Ohio each year through its diverse healthcare and social service delivery system focused around: primary and specialized medical care, behavioral health, HIV/STI prevention, advocacy, and community health initiatives.
Baldwin Wallace University is a private, liberal arts-based, Methodist-affiliated college located in Berea, Ohio, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, certificates and professional education programs… and so much more.
Baldwin Wallace University is an academic community committed to the liberal arts and sciences as the foundation for lifelong learning.
The University fulfills this mission through a rigorous academic program that is characterized by excellence in teaching and learning within a challenging, supportive environment that enhances students’ intellectual and spiritual growth.
Today Representative Bill Hayes introduced HB 537, which attempts to make discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of sexual orientation unlawful. However, the bill does nothing for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community, transgender Ohioans, and is silent on discrimination in public accommodations.
There is a clear problem in Ohio – it is generally legal to fire someone, kick someone out of rental housing, or deny service at a store or restaurant just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, this law does not address these important issues – not only does it leave transgender people out entirely, it fails to secure protections against discrimination in public accommodations.
Discrimination against transgender people has spurred travel boycotts from several Ohio cities and counties to North Carolina including Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Cuyahoga County and Summit County.
Protections against discrimination in public accommodations – like being refused entry or access to stores, restaurants, parks, hotels, doctor’s offices and banks – is a fundamental civil right that this bill does not address. In addition, the bill has broad religious exemptions.
“Equality Ohio will never support a bill that fails to include the transgender community,” said Alana Jochum, managing director of Equality Ohio. “We need to show that Ohio is truly welcoming to all LGBTQ Ohioans. The bill represents a complicated attempt to a solve a problem that could be resolved simply by adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression throughout Ohio’s existing nondiscrimination code. I look forward to working with Rep. Hayes and our legislators to work together for a law in Ohio that protects the entire LGBTQ community.”
“When we say that everyone deserves protection from discrimination, we mean everyone,” said Lisa Wurm, policy manager for the ACLU of Ohio. “We refuse to support legislation that carves out exceptions for people that are often the most vulnerable and stigmatized. We will not sacrifice the rights of transgender people in our work for full legal equality.”
“While we appreciate Representative Hayes’ desire to address discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Ohio, this attempt is simply a non-starter.
A bill that would truly address this issue would also include protections in public accommodations and would ensure that those most vulnerable to discrimination, transgender individuals, were included. We’d be happy to work with Representative Hayes to craft something that would more fully address the problem of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all places where people live, work and play.”- Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director.
The Cleveland Foundation has helped citizens give back to their community since 1914. Still, many societal ills remain, and some are worsening. We must develop new ways of educating, creating jobs and wealth, and solving problems we have only begun to comprehend.
Our staff and board of directors have identified six areas to which we now proactively direct a growing percentage of our grant dollars. Today two-thirds of our flexible grant dollars support projects in these priority areas, with the goal of creating significant, widespread impact. The balance of our grantmaking dollars is awarded in response to direct requests from the community.
Today, Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced her intention to introduce legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing or public accommodations. Watch a video of the announcement here.
Alana Jochum, managing director of Equality Ohio said:
In most parts of Ohio, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people can be fired, evicted from their homes, or denied service at a business or public place just because they are LGBT.
Nobody should have to endure discrimination. The vast majority of Ohioans agree. Nearly 8 in 10 Ohioans support this. In fact, they’re shocked to learn that we don’t have a law like this protecting LGBT Ohioans in the first place.