Business-led initiative encourages corporate activism

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The ‘Tennessee Thrives’ initiative is a coalition of approximately 300 businesses and business organizations that are committed to maintaining a thriving economy for a Tennessee that welcomes all hard working people.

Tennessee has experienced real economic loss after HB1840 that passed in 2016, a bill that allows counselors to deny services to clients based on their principles. North Carolina has provided the best (or worst) example of how discriminatory legislation can hurt the economy. There are sources that estimate North Carolina’s loss at over $4 billion after passing HB2, a law that discriminates against transgender people. PayPal, NCAA competitions, the NBA All-Star game, and Deutsche Bank are just a few of the measurable losses for North Carolina in less than one year.

One objective of Tennessee Thrives is to make legislators think twice before proposing or passing bills that put the state’s ability to attract talent, visitors, or corporate investment at risk. Since the launch of the Tennessee Thrives website, www.tennesseethrives.org, over 190 companies have signed the pledge.

We believe that equal treatment of all Tennesseans and visitors is essential to maintaining Tennessee’s strong brand as a growing and exciting home for business innovation, economic development, a best-in-class workforce, and dynamic entertainment, travel and tourism industries.

In order for Tennessee businesses to compete for top talent, we believe our workplaces and communities must be diverse and welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

As signers of the Tennessee Thrives pledge, we are committed to promoting an attractive, prosperous, and economically vibrant Tennessee. A united Tennessee is a thriving Tennessee.

Tennessee Thrives has been in the works for about a year. It is based on models in other states like Georgia (Georgia Prospers) and Texas (Texas Competes). Executive Director of the Nashville LGBT Chamber, Lisa Howe, came back from the 2015 Out & Equal Conference with the idea for a business coalition in Tennessee to help combat anti-LGBT legislation and other discriminatory legislation proposed in our state.

“I had been researching Georgia Prospers during the 2016 legislative session,” Howe said. “I brought the idea to our members in May as soon as some of them were making official statements against the Bathroom Bill and the Counseling Discrimination Bill. It was clear that if we were to take this project on, alone, that the LGBT Chamber programs and events would suffer. We were happy when strategic partners stepped up and put forward the resources to make Tennessee Thrives become a reality.”

Howe added that Tennessee Thrives is a tool that can be used to combat legislation that may be discriminatory and directed at, not only the LGBT community, but also the immigrant or Muslim community or any other minority community. “I would not say that Tennessee Thrives belongs to any one person, organization, or city.” adds Howe. “It truly is meant to be owned by and representative of our diverse business community all across this great state.”

LGBT Chamber members and partners are encouraged to go to the website and add their support to Tennessee Thrives.

 

LGBT Chamber members and partners who have signed include:

AlphaGraphics Music City
Nashville Film Festival
AmosEvents
Nashville Repertory Theatre
Asurion
Nissan
BAM! Social Business
NPS Pharmacy
Baker Donelson
Over the Top Linens
Bass Berry & Sims
Palmer Solutions
Belcourt Theatre
Pareto Realty
C615
Provence Breads & Cafe
Chattanooga Outlook
Quest Events Nashville
City Winery
Raymond James Financial
Classic Party Rentals
Ron Sanford Productions
Clearing the Way Home
Sinema Restaurant + Bar
CPA Consulting Group
The Chef and I
Cummins
The Computer Butler
Dell
The Doug Jeffords Company
Element Salon
Vanderbilt University
Genesco
Village Real Estate
Get it Done Solutions
Waller
Grand Avenue
Yuletide Office Solutions
HCA
Hilton
Hotel Indigo Nashville Downtown
J.D. Events & Festivals
Listen Live Learn, LLC
Medicopy Services
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nashville CARES

 

***An earlier version of this article incorrectly described "Tennessee Thrives" as an LGBT Chamber initiative – while many member companies are supporters of Tennessee Thrives, this characterization was incorrect.