The Business Case for Marriage Equality

 In Benefits, Employee Relations, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on marriage equality sometime this month. As a business person, why should you care? After all, it’s such an emotionally-charged and divisive issue and your instincts are probably telling you to stay out of 10- foot pole range. Really, what does marriage equality have to do with your business? Well, if you take a step back and look at it, it may have a lot to do with your business.

Uome of the Supremes

Home of the Supremes

The business case for marriage equality was strongly made in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court by almost 400 business, including 40 of the Fortune 100 and Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s .  The brief reviews a number of ways marriage equality will positively impact business:

1. Businesses benefit from diversity and inclusion – Specifically, a more diverse workforce has a better understanding of a diverse customer base, and is more creative and innovative.

2. Diversity and inclusion create a larger applicant pool and help attract and retain top talent – Competitive and equal benefits packages attract and keep talent and discrimination drives talented people away. In fact, the New York Times reported  that a number of high-profile law firms, firms that defend tobacco and fire arms companies, would not take the case against marriage equality. Why? Because they were afraid it would hurt their recruiting efforts!

 3. A “fractured legal landscape” imposes significant burdens on business – A lack of consistency in the law means headaches if your company operates in multiple states. If you are charged with managing benefits you need to worry about appropriate record keeping, correct tax treatment, and how to advise your participants when all of those things may be different from state to state.

4. It undermines corporate culture – Despite whatever anti-discriminatory intentions you have or statements that you have made, the law in some states currently forces you to create a separate and unequal system. The unfairness of treating one set of employees differently leads to turnover, low morale, and lost productivity.

5. Marriage equality creates business opportunities – It’s been estimated that in Vermont marriage equality has added $10 million a year to the economy and created 700 new jobs (it’s a job creation program!). In New York City  its estimate the economic boost is an astounding $250 million a year.

So, let’s hope the Supreme Court makes a sensible, business-like decision and makes marriage equality the law of the land.