As of last week, more than 70 top executives at some of the largest American tech firms signed a joint statement demanding that policymakers add protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers to anti-discrimination legislation currently on the books.
“To ensure no one faces discrimination and ensure everyone preserves their right to live out their faith, we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of service to anyone,” the statement reads.
Coordinated by Max Levchin, CEO of the online financial firm Affirm, the statement includes signatures from industry heavyweights including Twitter, eBay, Yelp and Paypal.
The move comes on the heels of the controversial Indiana law that allows business owners the right to refuse service to LGBT people on religious grounds. An ever increasing number of major American businesses, from Apple to the Gap have denounced the law. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who also contributed his signature, led the charge against Indiana, arguing he would cancel all of the company’s travel to the state.
Under pressure from Walmart and other corporate giants, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson refused to sign a similar religious-freedom bill last week unless lawmakers changed it to include protections against LGBT discrimination.
Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT rights advocacy group, said more executives are expected to sign the statement in the days to come.
In a public statement after the effort was announced, Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, said: “This unprecedented and historic effort by the giants of the tech industry should be a clarion call to policymakers that discriminating against LGBT people is not acceptable in today’s marketplace of ideas … These leaders have made it clear: if states want high tech jobs, they must put fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections in place immediately.”
Read the full statement below:
The values of diversity, fairness and equality are central to our industry. These values fuel creativity and inspiration, and those in turn make the U.S. technology sector the most admired in the world today.
We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at stake.
Religious freedom, inclusion, and diversity can co-exist and everyone including LGBT people and people of faith should be protected under their states’ civil rights laws. No person should have to fear losing their job or be denied service or housing because of who they are or whom they love.
However, right now those values are being called into question in states across the country. In more than twenty states, legislatures are considering legislation that could empower individuals or businesses to discriminate against LGBT people by denying them service if it they felt it violated their religious beliefs.
To ensure no one faces discrimination and ensure everyone preserves their right to live out their faith, we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.
Anything less will only serve to place barriers between people, create hurdles to creativity and inclusion, and smother the kind of open and transparent society that is necessary to create the jobs of the future. Discrimination is bad for business and that’s why we’ve taken the time to join this joint statement.
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm
Mark Pincus, Chairman, Zynga
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square
Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
Logan Green, CEO, Lyft
Brian Chesky, CEO, AirBnB
Joe Gebbia, CPO, AirBnB
Nathan Blecharczyk, CTO, AirBnB
Ron Conway, CEO, Axon JuriMed Group LLC
John Donahoe, CEO, Ebay
Paul Graham, CoFounder, YCombinator
Rich Barton, Chairman, Zillow Group
Chad Hurley, CEO, Mixbit
Adora Cheung, CEO, Homejoy
Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote
Trevor Traina, CEO, IfOnly
Nirav Tolia, CEO, NextDoor
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Bret Taylor, CEO, Quip
Joe Lonsdale, CEO, Formation 8
Thomas Layton, Chairman, Elance-odesk
Fabio Rosati, CEO, Elance-odesk
Dave Morin, CEO, Path
Mark Goldstein, Chairman, BackOps
Kevin Rose, CEO, North Technologies
Yves Behar, CCO, Jawbone
Padmasree Warrior, CTSO, Cisco Systems
Tony Conrad, CEO, about.me
Sunil Paul, CEO, Sidecar
Michael Moritz, Chairman, Sequoia Capital
Dan Schulman, President, PayPal
Devin Wenig, President, eBay Marketplaces
Robert Hohman, CEO, Glassdoor
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Mohan Warrior, CEO, Alphalight
David Spector, CIO, Penny Mac
Shervin Pishevar, CoFounder, Sherpa Ventures