The fight for workers' rights to openly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in the workplace is building up to a grand finale, as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which prevents employers from discriminating against LGBT individuals, comes to a vote in Congress.
Dozens of companies are stepping forward to support it. Apple CEO Tim Cook, has been one of its most vocal supporters, and for good reason. Apple's company-wide antidiscrimination policy far outstrips the federal government's, and it already provides its employees with all of the protections that are available in the ENDA. But it's not just about being progressive or on-trend. Cook also believes in nondiscrimination because it just makes good business sense.
In the Wall Street Journal, Cook cites a "fundamental truth" of business: "People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced." Allowing people to be who they are turns them into better, more creative, and more dedicated employees, not least because they aren't spending time and energy worrying about hiding their identity. In turn, this helps employees "do the best work of their lives" and helps the company utilize the "full benefits of the individuals' talents." Nondiscrimination is about social justice, but it is also about tapping into the full potential of the U.S. workforce and making our country a stronger economic powerhouse.
In Cook's own words, "At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don't have to check their identity at the door." Now that's a message other corporate executives can really learn from. Thousands of LGBT workers are dreaming that this will become a reality as the ENDA comes to a vote Monday.