There’s a price to be paid for workplace discrimination—$64 billion. That amount represents the annual estimated cost of losing and replacing more than 2 million American workers who leave their jobs each year due to unfairness and discrimination.
A significant number of those workers are gay and transgender individuals who have been treated unfairly simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. According to a recent survey, fully 42 percent of gay individuals say they have experienced some form of employment discrimination at some point in their lives. Transgender workers face even higher rates of workplace discrimination and harassment. An astonishing 90 percent of transgender individuals report experiencing some form of harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job, or taking actions such as hiding who they are to avoid it. This includes 47 percent who said they had experienced an adverse job outcome such as being fired, denied employment, or not receiving a deserved promotion because of their gender identity.
Unfortunately it remains perfectly legal in a majority of states to fire someone because they are gay or transgender. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 16 states and the District of Columbia have done so on the basis of gender identity. Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, to provide gay and transgender workers uniform and comprehensive employment protections nationwide.
Until then far too many gay and transgender workers enter into the ranks of the unemployed at a time when all families are struggling to stay afloat. But discrimination is not only a problem for gay and transgender workers. Workplace discrimination also imposes significant financial harm on businesses, introducing inefficiencies and costs that cut into profits and undermine businesses’ bottom line.
For more on this topic, please see:
- The Costly Business of Discrimination by Crosby Burns