Top Florida Employers Make National List of Best Places to Work for LGBTs

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce highlights employers leading by example-

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) published its Corporate Equality Index 2016, and 10 companies on the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition scored a perfect 100-percent rating on the annual report. Akerman LLP, AT&T, Florida Blue, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, Office Depot, Tech Data, The Walt Disney Company and Wells Fargo achieved a perfect score and a spot on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work.

“I’m extremely proud of the leadership the members of the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition provide to our state and the business community,” said Coalition Campaign Manager, Patrick Slevin. “Not only are they leading by example as illustrated in the Corporate Equality Index, but also they are working to make our state a better place to work, live and visit through their support and efforts to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.”

“Florida Blue’s score reflects the focus we’ve placed on diversity within the workforce, which we know helps us better understand who we serve,” said Pat Geraghty, Chairman and CEO of Florida Blue. “We are proud to be a leader on LGBT workplace inclusiveness in Florida, and being named a Best Place to Work acknowledges that. Engaged employees are a key ingredient for a business to be successful.” Geraghty serves as president of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce.

“At Akerman, we know that a diversity of ideas and experiences are essential to our culture of collaborative innovation and our continuing efforts to deliver an exceptional experience to our people, our clients and our communities. We are intensely focused on recruiting and retaining gifted lawyers and staff from all backgrounds and cultivating an environment that reflects the values and priorities of our firm,” said Akerman LLP’s Chairman and CEO, Andrew Smulian.

According to the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Seventy-five percent have policies in place that protect workers based on gender identity. Since HRC first released the CEI 14 years ago, these rates have increased from 61 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The CEI is America’s premier benchmarking tool for assessing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality in the workplace. A total of 851 companies participated in the survey this year.

“We continue to build strength in numbers as we gear up for the 2016 Florida Legislative Session and encourage companies that value diversity and inclusion to join our coalition,” Slevin added.

While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the gay and transgender community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach), commonly referred to as the Competitive Workforce Act, aims to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law. There are now 37 Florida counties and municipalities that have passed anti-discrimination measures to protect the LGBT community, representing 56 percent of Florida residents.

Top employers in the state have united to form the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, which aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. Thirty-five major Florida employers, including Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined, with more than 400 local businesses on board.

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About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce
The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies.

The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.  For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.