NEW REPORT: Ohio scores 50/100 in business climate for LGBTQ+ people; LGBTQ+ advocates unsurprised

For the first time since the State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index was published five years ago, the nation’s overall average score has dropped.

A new report was released in June ranking the business climate for LGTBQ+ people in all 50 states.

Ohio scored a 50.35 out of 100, a failing score that decreased from the state’s 2022 score. 

Out Leadership’s State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index is a business-lens roadmap of equality across the country. The list uses current legislation, policies, resource allocation, and attitudes in each of the 50 states to create metrics that rank the impact each state has on LGBTQ+ safety and inclusion. 

For the first time since Out Leadership began publishing the State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index five years ago, the nation’s overall average score on LGBTQ+ equality has dropped. The net negative rating for the country is largely due to over 500 anti-equality bills introduced at the state level this legislative cycle.

“Major corporate employers want to locate to places where they can recruit the best talent, without having to worry about state and local laws hindering their overall business success. Companies simply don’t want to be at odds with the business policies and practices of the state they operate in, and they certainly don’t want to feel attacked by them,” said Todd Sears, founder and CEO of Out Leadership

Ohio ranked 34 out of 50 in the overall state rankings, dropping 3 spots from 2022. Additionally, Ohio placed 9th regionally among the 12 midwest states, dropping one spot from last year. 

LGBTQ+ advocates say there is a direct link between the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation proposed by the Ohio legislature and the climate for businesses in the state.

“The drop in Ohio’s score demonstrates that many Ohio based or headquartered companies are doing the work to create internal cultures of belonging but this on its own will not make Ohio a safe place for LGBTQ+ people and families of LGBTQ+ children,” said Amanda Cole, Executive Director of Plexus LGBT + Allied Chamber of Commerce. “Plexus is a small fish in a large pond of other Chambers of Commerce and business groups who are better resourced and positioned to lobby our leaders to stop the attack on LGBTQ +communities. We continue to have an open invitation and open mind on how to follow the lead of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to effectively engage our business community to take the stand alongside us.”

At a committee hearing on May 24 to ban gender-affirming care, Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) said that no one is leaving Ohio due to anti-LGBTQ+ laws and that there is no evidence that businesses don’t want to set up shop in Ohio. 

His comments stood in contrast with the actual anti-LGBTQ+ climate that many Ohioans have experienced, particularly due to legislation being created in the Columbus statehouse. 

Equality Ohio is not surprised by Ohio’s score decline,” said Public Policy Director Maria Bruno. “To develop a thriving economy with a vibrant workforce, it is essential to create a business climate that respects and dignifies diverse cultures and identities, including LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ people in this state — especially transgender youth — have been fighting relentless assaults by Ohio lawmakers for several years now. While organizations like ours are dedicated to achieving lived and legal equality, we recognize that we are a small entity amidst a vast landscape of influential people and organizations in this great state. 

While there is determination about the road ahead, advocates say the climate can only be improved in Ohio when more powerful voices step up to the plate. 

“We cannot overcome this well-funded, coordinated campaign to strip the rights of LGBTQ+ people on our own,” Bruno said. “It is imperative for business leaders and people in positions of influence to unite, pool our collective power and urge our elected leaders to reverse course. We cannot go backwards. We won’t.” 🔥

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