Three recent events at federal USA and state of North Carolina governmental level starkly highlight a major divide in how the country and my state executive branch governments understand and value diversity.
• On Monday, June 16, President Obama announced that he soon plans to sign an executive order giving workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity (that address LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people) for federal contractors. Link to article.
• At the end of June, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to encourage and support LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs in developing countries. Link to details.
Second, follow these national items with an executive order issued by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory on June 30th. In his statewide executive order #55 (link), Governor McCrory addressed equal opportunity for employees in the state government regardless of “race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information.” One glaring omission – nothing referencing sexual orientation or gender identity! It would appear that for NC State Government jobs, treating people unfairly is perfectly OK if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
What most of our country’s Fortune 500 companies and the federal government understand is that all people must be treated fairly in the workplace for all to work at peak capacity and to achieve the best results. Still too often in the United States, LGBT people are looked down upon, scorned, demonized or even bullied, and if any group needs workplace protection, it is this segment.
Sadly enough, many political leaders often speak of providing a business-friendly environment to help stimulate economic growth, but then at the same time fail to protect and empower all in the workplace. Three large employers in the state of North Carolina have already told me in my role as a diversity consultant and trainer, that they are having serious issues recruiting the best talent to their locations in North Carolina because of our lack of progression on LGBT equality and protections at the state level.
It is time for all people across all states in our country to advocate for the equal and fair treatment of all Americans in the workplace, both in the private and public sector, so that all can work at their very best and help grow our country’s economy and deliver government services more effectively and efficiently.