For Immediate Release:
Thursday, October 26, 2017
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Amazon recently announced that 238 cities and regions are competing to serve as home for their second headquarters, HQ2, which would bring along a $5 billion investment and create 50,000 high-paying jobs. Several cities in Florida are in the running but the lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity may put the Sunshine State at a competitive disadvantage.
Amazon made diversity and quality of life important components of the bidding process requesting evidence of a compatible cultural and community environment that “includes the presence and support of a diverse population.” The company has actively promoted state and federal legislation on equal rights for the LGBT community and the corporation’s Statement on Diversity emphasizes diverse perspectives: “We believe that diversity and inclusion are good for our business, but our commitment is based on something more fundamental than that. It’s simply right. Amazon has always been, and always will be, committed to tolerance and diversity.”
“Ranked 12th on the Fortune 500 list, Amazon recognizes that recruiting and retaining the most talented workforce requires a great quality of life both in and out of the office,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Competes. “The 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies that are a part of Florida Competes have been embracing these nondiscrimination policies for years, calling on Florida legislators to modernize state law to ensure our business leaders can continue to build the economy by attracting national and international industries.”
In a video included in their proposal, Amazon HQ2 belongs in Tampa Bay!, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the importance of equal rights on local economies, stating, “These are two communities that stand up for the inherent rights of everybody, regardless of how you got here, of the language that you speak, of the God that you worship, or who you love. Both of us have been in that fight for a long time. And our communities have prospered as a result of that. And corporations looking at the two of us and our two cities know that their employees if they come here are going to be treated with the same respect regardless of your station in life.”
On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed.
While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination ordinances, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.
Major employers, including 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.
About Florida Competes
Florida Competes, formerly known as 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. 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 benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.