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Did you know that it’s illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or marital status, yet Florida law doesn’t protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification?
In 2014, this is just unacceptable.
Honoring the dignity of every person is an ethic that I wholeheartedly believe in. In addition, respect is one of our core values at Florida Blue. The company is an inclusive organization that honors and draws upon the diverse experiences, abilities and backgrounds of our employees. This is what helps us attract the best talent and create an environment of teamwork.
In demonstration of this commitment – I have joined the We Are Straight Allies
campaign as a Straight Ally in support of a Human Rights Ordinance in the City of Jacksonville. I am also President of the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition
, which is working to promote the Florida Competitive Workforce Act that would make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace by adopting anti-discrimination policies. This is bi-partisan legislation that promotes fairness and modernizes our state law by banning anti-gay and gender-based discrimination. It will be presented for passage during the 2015 Florida Legislative Session.
To reinforce the We Are Straight Allies
message, “nothing is more important than our humanity,” and everyone has a right to the same opportunities.
This lesson was instilled in me at a very young age through learning about my grandfather and my mother’s experiences of being discriminated against because of their ethnicity and gender. My grandfather, an Irish immigrant, was met by signs “Irish need not apply.” In addition, I very clearly remember my mother telling me the story of when she was first promoted to a supervisory position with men reporting to her. She said, “the first thing I heard was, ‘Well you understand that we aren’t going to be able to pay you as much as we paid the gentleman that had the job before you, because after all, he had a family.’” My mother made sure that lesson was drummed in, so I understood the concept that you should treat everyone equally. She set a very clear tone early on that jobs in our household were gender neutral, which taught my siblings and me how we should work with each other and relate to each other. It’s time that we move forward as a society and apply this lesson to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identification.
Over and above the obvious fairness issue, there is a very strong economic reason for adopting anti-discrimination legislation at the civic and state levels. Currently 84 percent of our nation’s largest employers have already publicly acknowledged this by adopting anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. What they – and we -- know is that recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is vital to their success. In addition, any company’s workforce must reflect the vast diversity of our state in order to adequately serve current and prospective customers. Florida needs to join the 17 other states and more than 170 cities across America that have passed non-discrimination protections.
Please make sure the legislators in your city know that this is an important issue that must be addressed. In addition, I ask that you visit the Florida Businesses for Competitive Workforce website and sign the petition
in support of The Florida Competitive Workforce Act. Together, we can make history and make Florida a more desirable place to live for everyone.