Special to Find It In Fondrenâ„¢ (Human Rights Campaign)

HRC Mississippi yesterday announced its Equality is Our Business program, designed to celebrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace,  advance protections in employment, housing and public accommodations, and create more inclusive business practices. The announcement took place at Millsaps College, the first educational institution to sign the Equality is Our Business pledge.

The pledge builds upon the modeled success of the If You’re Buying, We’re Selling campaign, started by Mississippi business owners Joce Pritchett, Eddie Outlaw and Mitchell Moore, in response to the passage of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2014. The new HRC Mississippi pledge aims to strengthen support for the values of diversity and inclusion, including Mississippi’s LGBT community, by engaging businesses of all sizes to sign the pledge, place stickers at their front door or cash register, and participate in a series of social networking and educational programs designed to highlight why equality is good for business.

“Equality makes good business sense and this pledge is another reminder to our legislators that Mississippi business owners support and embrace the LGBT community,” said HRC Mississippi director Rob Hill. “Regardless of our backgrounds, we can all agree that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.”

There are clear financial benefits of businesses who enthusiastically commit to LGBT diversity in the workplace. That’s why hundreds of Fortune 500 companies have equality protections in place for their LGBT workers. The business community understands in order to attract and retain top talent, managers must have workplace policies that treat everyone fairly.

According to a 2014 HRC survey, LGBT Mississippians are productive, contributing members of their respective communities. Fifty-seven percent of respondents have lived in the Magnolia State for more than 20 years; fifty-three percent have volunteered in their communities; and ten percent of LGBT Mississippians are currently serving, or have served, in the Armed Forces. However, LGBT people in the Magnolia State face challenging hurdles. More people have faced workplace harassment in rural Mississippi (54 percent) than those in urban settings (37 percent); almost half have experienced harassment in public establishments; and 41 percent of LGBT households earning less than $45,000 have experienced harassment at work.

HRC Mississippi is working to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; state rights to jointly adopt children; and state protections from hate crimes. HRC Mississippi works to realize a future where everyone is treated fairly by changing hearts, minds and laws.

To view the pledge, click here. Find It In Fondrenâ„¢ has signed the pledge and supports this HRC initiative.