Today, the President’s executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans in the workplace goes into effect. The EO on LGBT Workplace Discrimination prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in federal employment, and prohibits all companies that receive a contract from the Federal Government from discriminating against their LGBT employees. This action not only ensures that LGBT Americans have a more inclusive environment to work and flourish, but also better positions our contracting community to attract and retain the best talent.
Every year, billions of taxpayer dollars are spent on everything from consulting services, to training, to software development. Citizens expect contracting professionals to provide these services on a superior scale while serving as responsible business models with respect to 21st century workplace equality. As the President stated when he signed the executive order, “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”
Already, a majority of federal contractors have policies on the books on LGBT workplace equality. In fact, of the largest 50 federal contractors, which represent nearly half of all federal contracting dollars, 86% prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and 61% prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In addition, the five top federal contractors, which receive nearly a quarter of all federal contracting dollars, already bar discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Still, no federal law adequately protects LGBT workers. In too many sectors and too many states, LGBT workers can be fired or not promoted simply because of who they are and who they love. The executive order makes clear that the Federal Government will not do business with anyone who discriminates against LGBT workers. In the acquisition space, we know that policies that create an inclusive environment for employees to deliver on their missions, can improve productivity, support the bottom line, and strengthen the overall business model for both the company and its customers, including the federal government.
The Executive Order governs only Federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in Federal Government business in one year. Federal contractors have decades of experience complying with anti-discrimination laws, and today’s action simply ensures they extend the same protections to their LGBT workers.
Anne Rung is the Administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget.