An Executive Order to Prevent Discrimination Against LGBT Workers

By Lee Badgett, Crosby Burns, Nan D. Hunter, Jeff Krehely, Christy Mallory, and Brad Sears
February 2013

Research indicates that a federal executive order, prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity, would have a positive impact on workers, businesses, and the federal government. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers continue to face widespread discrimination and harassment in the workplace. While many states, municipalities, and corporations have instituted policies that shield LGBT workers from workplace bias, a majority of LGBT individuals still lack adequate legal protections. Absent federal legislation, the President has the legal authority through an executive order to protect the thousands of employees of federal contractors from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.

Further, many top 50 federal contractors and Fortune 500 companies have already successfully implemented nondiscrimination policies. Nearly all (90 percent) of the top 50 federal contractors now include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, and most (67 percent) include gender identity too. Since 2010, the number of top federal contractors providing gender identity protections has increased by 50 percent. Companies link nondiscrimination policies to improving their bottom line. Recruiting and retaining the best talent, generating the most innovative ideas as a result of a diverse workforce, and maintaining positive employee morale and relations were all among the most frequently cited economic benefits companies linked to their nondiscrimination policies.

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