Tim Cook voices his support for LGBT workers

Cook pens an op-ed urging senators to support the Employment Nondescrimintion Act

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
November 4, 2013
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As the Senate gears up to advance the Employment Nondescrimination Act—legislation that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity—the bill just got a couple of big name supporters: POTUS Barack Obama and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Both penned op-eds today to rally support for the bill—Obama for the Huffington Post and Tim Cook for the Wall Street Journal. As it stands, the bill has the support of every Senate Democrat, but only a smattering of Republicans. Notably, House Speaker John Boehner himself has said he would oppose the bill. (Because he’s awesome like that, you guys.)

“The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

O rly? said Tim Cook.

If you’re going to bring up jobs and business, be prepared to get your shit checked. By Tim Cook.

“As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We've found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives,” wrote Cook.

Currently, only 50% of Americans support the Employment Nondescrimination Act (ENDA). But—and this is a big but—only half of Americans actually know that there is no federal law in place protecting gay people from workplace discrimination. Half of all Americans don’t know that in most states, it’s perfectly legal for a business owner or employer to fire someone purely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 21 states have enacted legislation to protect workers from such discrimination.

Okay, best part—those same people who don’t know that there is no federal law protecting gay people from workplace discrimination: most are Republican and most don’t support ENDA.


Nearly one in two LGBT have experienced workplace discrimination at some point in their lives, according to a 2008 General Social Survey. More than a quarter (27%) said they had experienced employment discrimination within the five years preceding the survey.

Due to the ridiculously high rate of discrimination LGBT employees face, fully one-third of LGBT workers are not open about their sexual orientation in the workplace.

What are the effects of working in a non-LGBT-friendly workplace? Research shows that workers who have suffered discrimination or fear discrimination have higher rates of psychological stress, less job satisfaction, higher rates of absenteeism, and are more likely to consider quitting than non-LGBT workers. In contrast, workplaces that are supportive of LGBT workers tend to have employees with higher job satisfaction and life satisfaction.

“Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves,” wrote Cook. “When that happens, we undermine people's potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals' talents.”


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