Leading Employers in State’s Key Industries Support Competitive Workforce Act

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce represents industries crucial to state’s economy-

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Florida ranks 19th among the world’s largest economies, and top employers from industries critical to Florida’s economy are backing a bipartisan measure to make Florida more attractive to businesses and talent.  Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW) is a statewide coalition pushing for passage of House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach).  The legislation, commonly referred to as the Competitive Workforce Act, would update the Civil Rights Act of 1992.

“Tourism, technology, infrastructure, banking and finance… these are all top industries in our state, and the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition represents these fields and others that are crucial to our economy,” said Coalition Campaign Manager, Patrick Slevin. “It is getting more difficult to attract talent for high paying jobs and to entice businesses to set up shop here. We have got to do everything we can as a state to make Florida the best place to live, work and play, and passing the Competitive Workforce Act is a step in the right direction.”

According to TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2015, Florida ranks #3 in the U.S. for high-tech businesses.  John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and CIO of Tech Data Corporation, Florida’s second largest public company, serves as the FBCW coalition’s secretary. In the latest episode of Drumbeat Report, the coalition’s online video series, Tonnison goes on camera to explain why his company is taking a lead role in pushing for the Competitive Workforce Act:

“Our operations are in 25 countries, our customers are in 100 countries, and our vendor partners are on the West Coast and global. Each of those constituents, from our global employees to our global customers to our vendor partners, is highly diverse in their ethnicities, their religions, their belief systems, their backgrounds, their languages and their cultures. As such, cultural intelligence, wisdom and diversity in our workforce are vitally important. Being able to attract those with the best talents, with the best cultural intelligence, experience, maybe from other parts of the world, to Florida is vital. The Workforce Act is an important way of signaling that Florida is a destination for that kind of talent.”

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-six major Florida employers, including nine 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.

Florida’s transportation infrastructure plays a vital role in the state’s economic prosperity. Bob O’Malley, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Affairs for CSX, Florida’s seventh largest public company, explained in a recent episode of Drumbeat Report why the railroad company is backing HB 45/SB 120:

“At CSX, one of our core values is that people make the difference. We strive to have a diverse, inclusive and engaged workforce, not just in our recruiting practices, but also in our day-to-day operations. Here in our headquarters state, we are supporting the Competitive Workforce Act because it’s good for the state, it’s good business and we’d like to see other companies in the state follow our lead.”

In addition to its Fortune 500 members, the coalition includes 27 large businesses and organizations: Akerman, AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, Chamber SOUTH, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, DTCC, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors®, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, Haskell, HSN, Miami Heat, Orlando City, On Top of the World Communities, Pointe Group Advisors, Raymond James, Rollins College, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, University of North Florida, University of South Florida Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and Winn Dixie.

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.

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. The Competitive Workforce Act aims to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law.


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. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.