Four southeastern Wisconsin companies are included in the five founding members of a new group, Wisconsin Businesses for Equality, that is advocating for transgender equality legislation.
[caption id="attachment_122802" align="alignright" width="404"] ManpowerGroup's global headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.[/caption]
Wauwatosa-based Froedtert Health, Kohler-based Kohler Co., Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup and the Milwaukee Bucks have signed on, along with Madison’s UW Health.
The coalition was organized by the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Fair Wisconsin, and will advocate for updating Wisconsin’s non-discrimination law to protect the transgender community.
“We believe it’s time to update and modernize our state laws to add nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity and expression,” said Jason Rae, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
A bill to make the changes was introduced in June in the state Legislature, sponsored by Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee).
The LGBT Chamber expects to find support for the change, as a recent poll it commissioned found 63 percent of Wisconsin residents believed the non-discrimination laws should be updated to protect transgender people.
"We must embrace diversity by enabling all individuals to cultivate their skillsets and develop successful, sustainable careers,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “A strong and thriving business community means empowering people to participate in the workplace. ManpowerGroup is honored to actively support the Wisconsin Businesses for Equality Campaign. Together, we can put people to work and truly create positive change throughout our community.”
“Until the day that all transgender Wisconsinites are protected by law, we all stand to lose,” said Megin McDonell, executive director of Fair Wisconsin. “Businesses know that this isn’t just good for the bottom line, it is also the right thing to do.”
Wisconsin was the first state to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, in 1982. But the law does not include gender identity and expression.