Diversity in the workplace and marriage equality can boost business says a new the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) study.

“The Effect of Marriage Equality and Domestic Partnership On Business and the Economy," was released on Oct. 9, 2006 from UCLA’s Williams Institute and outlines the benefits resulting from inclusive diversity policies.

"Policymakers and businesspeople have not fully recognized the enormous potential gains to the economy from treating same-sex couples equally," noted M. V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., study co-author and research director of the Williams Institute.

Badgett is an associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her primary field is labor economics. She is also the research director of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, a national think tank and the author of Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men (University of Chicago Press, 2001). She is currently a visiting professor at UCLA.

"Our study shows that equal treatment of couples in the business world attracts heterosexual employees and creates more productive workplaces for gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees." 

Badgett points out that study counters the prevalent myths that diversity is bad for business and clears up misconceptions regarding incorporating positive diversity policies. She said that more than half of the Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits, and the likelihood that they did this for their overall financial health is obvious.

The study indicates that diversity and fairness influence the bottom line in several ways. The positive effect on employee mental health means fewer sick days and lost productivity. Retention and job satisfaction are shown to increase. The company with good policy will often outperform their rivals, all other things being equal.

In certain sectors, there can be an increase in customers. Badgett points to the wedding industry with its’ ancillary service businesses, including hotels, wedding planners, formal wear retailers, florists, caterers, and comprehensive wedding chapel services, are but one group of businesses likely to benefit greatly from marriage equality and other legal relationships for GLBT couples.

"Spending on new weddings alone would generate $2 billion for businesses in the wedding industry," reports co-author Gary J. Gates, senior research associate at the Williams Institute.

On Nov. 7 Tennesseans will consider incorporating a ban on marriage equality in an upcoming ballot initiative into the Tennessee State Constitution.

Commonly known as Proposition One, the Nov. 7 election will decide if the constitutional change will occur. (See Vote No on 1’s Web site at www.votenoon1tn.com.)

“The bottom line is that good diversity policy makes it harder for the competition,” notes Badgett.

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. This study can be accessed at the Williams Institute website, www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute.  



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