Microsoft to support anti-discrimination bill

May 7, 2005

I wrote about Microsoft and their stance on an equal rights bill (no discrimination by sexual orientation) a couple weeks back, now Microsoft has decided to actively support the bill again, Steve Ballmer's memo to the company can be found here.

Since the previous bill was already defeated in the Washington state legislature, Microsoft will support any subsequent effort.

After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda. Since our beginning nearly 30 years ago, Microsoft has had a strong business interest in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and most diverse workforce possible. I'm proud of Microsoft's commitment to non-discrimination in our internal policies and benefits, but our policies can't cover the range of housing, education, financial and similar services that our people and their partners and families need. Therefore, it's appropriate for the company to support legislation that will promote and protect diversity in the workplace.</p>

Accordingly, Microsoft will continue to join other leading companies in supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - adding sexual orientation to the existing law that already covers race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability. Given the importance of diversity to our business, it is appropriate for the company to endorse legislation that prohibits employment discrimination on all of these grounds. Obviously, the Washington State legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it. </strong>

Microsoft had previously said that they were going to be focusing their lobbying efforts to business issues, and now Ballmer is stating that diversity in the workplace is an important business issue.

So, I am putting it out there, will support a anti-discrimination bill if one is put forth to the Washington state legislature again? My first voice towards consensus is I support this kind of legislation.

The last time I saw the anti-discrimination bill was when I was a youth legislator in 1992 attending a Youth and Government session at the State Legislature in Olympia, Washington. I don't think the bill even made it to the floor that year. . .or maybe it was not even introduced, but in 1993 I went back to Olympia and the bill was there again (in fact there were a few similar bills introduced). After some interesting discussion the bill passed both committee, House and the Senate. Then, the youth governor from Eastern Washington vetoed the bill. In his closing remarks to the legislature that year, the youth governor introduced some of the most inspiring words I have ever heard to explain his veto of the bill.

"If I had a son, and that son was drunk, I would not hand him the keys to the car."

No, that is not a Bushism.

Discussion, links, and tweets

Good Morning!