A coalition of some of Kentucky's leading employers, home-grown corporations, and small, locally owned businesses launched the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition to call for passage of a Statewide Fairness Law, which would update Kentucky's Civil Rights Act to add lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Kentuckians to discrimination protections in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. The coalition launched with a press conference at Brown-Forman Corporation Thursday, November 19.

Each company has already adopted their own LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies along with 94% of Fortune 100 businesses in the United States. The reason? Business leaders say non-discrimination policies keep their companies competitive statewide, nationwide, and worldwide. Inclusive workplaces and communities allow companies to recruit and retain the best, hardest working, and most talented individuals without impediment.

Kentucky remains one of 28 states that has not yet updated its Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, leaving three-quarters of Kentuckians vulnerable to legal discrimination. Eight cities in our state have already passed their own LGBT Fairness Ordinances--Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead, and the Appalachian town of Vicco.

Last year, for the first time in its now-16-year history, Kentucky's proposed Statewide Fairness Law received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, where Brown-Forman Corporation Chief Diversity Officer Ralph De Chabert testified of the economic benefits of LGBT anti-discrimination protections. “ A Statewide Fairness Law would keep Kentucky competitive in workforce recruitment and retention,” said De Chabert. “Currently, the commonwealth could be missing out on talented employees,” he added. The proposed law received no vote but the promise of a return to the committee from Chairman John Tilley (Hopkinsville).

The Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition will work to bring greater attention to the need for LGBT discrimination protections in the coming months and recruit additional partners across the commonwealth. Companies may join the coalition by completing the attached letter and e-mailing it to Info@KYCompetitiveWorkforce.com. A full list of Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition companies may be found at www.KYCompetitiveWorkforce.com, which will launch during the press conference and be updated with new members regularly.