Tennessee Open Letter to STOP Discriminatory Legislation
As corporate citizens, we know Tennessee is a great place to do business. The General Assembly and the Administration have been good partners in this effort, through many business-friendly policies such as lowering taxes, consistently supporting a balanced budget, reforming our worker’s compensation system, and passing tort reform efforts.
Tennessee’s thriving economy is proof that these efforts have paid off. Tennessee tourism is breaking records, with visitors spending more than $20 billion to visit our state in 2017 and generating $1.8 billion in state and local sales tax revenue. We have one of the nation’s lowest state unemployment rates and are recognized as one of the top states for business investment.
Looking forward, it is critical that Tennessee maintain its national reputation as a leader in innovation, job creation, and talent development. As we recruit new talent and seek to retain our world-class workforce, we often face questions about whether our state is a welcoming and inclusive place to live for the LGBT community. It is both a business imperative and a part of our corporate values that our employees and their families, and potential employees, feel welcomed and included in the prosperity of our state.
Tennessee is open for business to all, and as corporate citizens, we want to keep it that way. Legislation that explicitly or implicitly allows discrimination against LGBT people and their families creates unnecessary liability for talent recruitment and retention, tourism, and corporate investment to the state. We’ve seen time and again that discriminatory policies that negatively impact LGBT people and their families have drastic economic consequences, and such policies would surely put Tennessee at an economic disadvantage.
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TN Small Business Signers-
AllianceBernstein: “AB chose to move to Tennessee because we believe it is a welcoming state that is focused on growing jobs, incomes and the tax base, which will improve lives for all Tennesseans. We believe strongly in the need for continued investments in education, safety and infrastructure for all. The bills being debated in the current session of the legislature send a clear message to certain constituencies that they are not welcome. Other states have tried to pass similar bills, and this has proven to be anti-growth, anti-jobs and against the interests of the citizens of those states.”
Amazon: “Amazon has a long history of supporting equality and we’re opposed to laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination."
Concord: The legislation currently being considered by the Tennessee State Assembly — that could be on the Governor’s desk as early as this week— is a threat to the inclusivity that makes the music business the soul of Music City. Ultimately, it could even jeopardize the continued growth of the music business here. Concord is one of the most recent music companies to make a home in Nashville, but we already have a substantial presence and are looking forward to doubling our Nashville staff by the end of next year. We strongly support the other local organizations, companies and elected officials that have spoken out against these bills that could threaten the liberties and rights of our LGBTQ friends and colleagues. We do not want to see equality in Tennessee take a giant leap backwards. We can do better.
Curb Records: “As a former elected official, a Republican and a Christian, and as founder and Chairman of Curb Records and the Curb Foundation, I cannot believe that our legislators would put our brand new Governor in a position to have to consider potentially discriminatory legislation that could involve taxpayer funds.”
Mars Petcare: At Mars, we believe our business and our community are at their best when we embrace and celebrate all people. We firmly believe that everyone is equal and that every person deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.We value our presence across the state of Tennessee and continue to invest here as it has been a great place to do business. Discrimination has no place in our business or our laws. We strongly oppose the bills being considered that would negatively impact our entire community and the thriving business environment that we currently have. We respectfully ask the legislature to defeat these anti-business bills.
Nashville Predators: “The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena oppose discrimination of any kind. In an effort to keep our state vibrant with potential for tremendous economic and social growth, we proudly support Tennessee Thrives. We have seen our city and state stand with us during NHL All-Star Weekend and the NHL Stanley Cup Final and we have witnessed lower Broadway embrace the incredible volume of fans for the SEC during the Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments. Passing discriminatory legislation would limit revenue for the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee by inhibiting our ability to secure events like those and future events such as league marquee events, NCAA Games, award shows and countless potential concerts. We strongly encourage our elected officials to keep us on an inclusive path that protects the rights of all Tennessee citizens.”
Nashville Soccer Club: “As a major league sports club approaching our inaugural season in Major League Soccer, we carefully selected diversity and inclusion as two of our core values as an organization. We cannot and do not condone discrimination of any form, or support legislation that explicitly or implicitly allows discrimination against LGBTQ people and their families. Our team, and we believe our city, should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, ethnic origin or race, and we stand as proudly with the LGBTQ community as we do with all other communities.”
Postmates VP of Global Public Policy & Strategic Communications, Vikrum Aiyer: “The politics of division that sailed through the legislature this week not only undermines the equal dignity of all persons and emboldens policies of discrimination -- but also it undercuts the economic prospects of hundreds of dedicated community members who live and are employed by companies like Postmates. We are extremly concerned passage of these bills could harm job growth for us, especially as we have economic incentive packages with the State to expand our presence; and as tech is in a worldwide race for top talent, Tennessee should not give companies any reason to reconsider where they call home. We’re taking a stand with our merchants, our Postmates fleet, our customers, our small business owners, our veterans, and our brothers and sisters, to say simply: no matter your race, color, creed, or food order — we stand with you.”
ServiceSource: “Although our company is headquartered in Colorado, we have a significant presence in Nashville (over 700 employees in the city center) and we were recently made aware of the proposed legislation that would disadvantage our LGBT community members, as well as the open letter to the legislature sponsored by your organization. We at ServiceSource are committed to equality and believe that policies and laws that promote tolerance and equal opportunity are critical not only to business but to society. “
Technet: “Legislation explicitly or implicitly targeting LGBTQ people is an economic liability for Tennessee, and it negatively impacts the state’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees. After all, technology companies are engaged in a worldwide fight for the top talent – talent that has the choice of where to work or begin the next startup. Tennessee shouldn't make it harder to compete for these individuals and convince them to call the state home.”
Tennessee Titans: “The Tennessee Titans oppose discrimination in any form. We are long-standing supporters of Tennessee Thrives. Discriminatory legislation hurts all of us. It also impacts our ability to secure events like the 2019 NFL Draft, major conventions, major athletic contests and other events that benefit our local and state economy. It also weakens our ability to recruit new business and industry to Nashville and to Tennessee. We would encourage our elected officials to keep us on a path that protects all our citizens, our growth and our economy.”
Warner Music Group: "WMG is proud of its longstanding presence in Tennessee. The continued success and growth of our business here depends on our ability to recruit and retain a best-in-class, diverse workforce. We often receive questions about whether Tennessee is a welcoming and inclusive place to live for the LGBT community. These bills send a clear message that LGBT artists, songwriters and employees are not welcome.”
This letter was organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Freedom for All Americans.