More leading Michigan job providers sign on to Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition

Mackinac Island, MI – As business, opinion and policy leaders from across Michigan gather for the 2014 Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference, advocates for business from both Detroit and Grand Rapids announced their groups’ support of a recently announced effort to update Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to include sexual orientation and gender identity.  Standing together this morning, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce officially signed on to become members of the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition. 

Under ELCRA, it is illegal to subject people to differential treatment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status, and the ELCRA prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring, compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.  Currently, sexual orientation and gender identity are not included under the ELCRA.

“Michigan’s business community is sending a very clear message about the importance of workforce diversity to our state’s future,” said Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah. “We are in a global war for talent, and need the best and brightest workforce to compete in the 21st century economy, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. We are committed to a Michigan where all are free and welcome to contribute to our economic comeback.”

Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce added, “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. This is about Michigan’s competitiveness and our ability to attract and retain talent. We hear from our members in West Michigan on a regular basis that while infrastructure and tax policy impact the work they are doing, finding highly skilled, creative and talented people to fill jobs is a growing challenge.  Updating Elliott-Larsen won’t solve this problem on its own, but it sends a message to workers both inside and outside of Michigan that if they are qualified for a job, they will be treated fairly and judged on their merits.” 

The Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition and its founding members were announced earlier this month.  Those members include:



Blue Cross Blue Shield

Consumers Energy

Dow Chemical Company

Herman Miller


Southwest Michigan First
Strategic Staffing Solutions
Whirlpool Corporation


Joining today with the Detroit and Grand Rapids Chambers in announcing their support in updating the ELCRA include: Chrysler Group LLC, Clark Hill PLC, Irwin Seating Company, Issue Media Group, Kellogg Company, Pfizer, Professional Property Management and Slow’s Bar BQ.

“The coalition is growing,” said Jim Murray, President of AT&T and Co-chair of the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition.  “The leadership shown by both the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce on behalf of their thousands of members and their communities is essential as we work with lawmakers to make this needed reform.  The more voices the better, and we are still taking volunteers.”