When society’s -isms result in higher incarceration and job insecurity, certain individuals are unable to contribute their skills to the U.S. economy. This is why business leaders led efforts in Michigan recently to add the LGBT community to the state’s civil rights law.
What do these efforts mean for the U.S. economy? When do racism and homophobia give way to business interests?
Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson speaks with Jim Murray, president of AT&T Michigan and newly elected chair of Equality Michigan as well as Ani Turner, co-director of Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending and lead author of the The Business Case for Racial Equity.
“In terms of the impact on the business community,” says Turner, “in another 20 years or so our working age population is going to be 50 percent people of color. And we want our workforce to have the skills and the education and the health that we need to be productive and to be able to grow businesses.”
Turner says racial disparities permeate many arenas. But when it comes to equality in the LGBT community, Jim Murray asserts that it’s politicians — and less business owners — who have more work to do.
“In my opinion, the business groups in this country have led the change. They’re far ahead of where the law and the legal arguments are on this… The reason that we need to go out and pass Elliott-Larson is that you shouldn’t have to go work for a Fortune 500 company to have your civil rights protected.”
Michigan’s Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and other factors. But it does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A proposed amendment to include LGBT rights was ultimately rejected back in 2014. But overall, Murray says there’s some hope that lawmakers will expand protections under the law since many business owners are on board.
To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.