Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5 - the Equality Act, critical legislation that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination in the workplace, housing, public accommodations, credit, education and jury service.
On behalf of Cardinal Health and as a strong Ally, I cannot overstate the importance of the Equality Act.
Current federal civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color, national origin and in most cases, sex, disability and religion, but do not explicitly provide nondiscrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. The Equality Act explicitly includes “sexual orientation and gender identity” to ensure nondiscrimination protections; clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994 does not allow for anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination; and limits the ability of future administrations to threaten or reverse anti-discrimination policies.
As the executive sponsor of the Cardinal Health PROUD Network, an employee resource group supporting our LGBTQ+ employees and their Allies, I am proud to speak up in support of this important legislation.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is a critical part of our culture at Cardinal Health, and we have been working to create a more fully inclusive cultural environment that embraces equality where LGBTQ+ employees feel welcomed and valued. But we also believe that it’s critical to have a federal standard that ensures that all employees are treated equally and fairly, no matter where they live or work as a citizen of our country.
Currently, fewer than half of U.S. states have explicit legal protections for people on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. As Senator Merkley said last week, “In 29 states, Americans can still be evicted, be thrown out of a restaurant, or be denied a loan because of who they are or whom they love.”
Cardinal Health has actively supported the passage of the Equality Act for several years, and we will participate in a virtual lobbying day with the Human Rights Council (HRC) in late March. Please check the HRC page for additional information on how you or your business can get involved in supporting this important legislation.
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national original, age or disability is wrong. It’s bad for individuals, it’s bad for business and it’s bad for our nation. We can all succeed only when each of us is treated fairly and with respect, and when each one of us can bring 100 percent of ourselves to every aspect of our lives.
Steve Mason is the CEO of Cardinal Health’s Medical segment – a global provider of medical products and supply chain services across the health care continuum from hospitals to laboratories, physician offices, surgery centers and patients in the home. He has more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles across Cardinal Health’s medical and pharmaceutical segments.