Battle Creek, MI – The Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce and leading Calhoun County businesses are the latest to sign on to a statewide effort to update Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA).  

Many of Michigan’s business and economic leaders want the ELCRA to protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Together, they established the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition to lead an effort to update the act.  Battle Creek-headquartered Kellogg Company was one of the coalition’s founding members when the coalition launched in early May.

“We know a welcoming Michigan can be a prosperous Michigan,” said Chamber President Kara Beer. “We need to do all we can to attract new workers and develop a talent base capable of meeting the economic needs of today and tomorrow.  Research shows that people recognize that it is wrong to discriminate in hiring and housing on the basis of sexual orientation, but our state laws haven’t kept pace, and it’s time we changed that.”

Michigan law makes it illegal to subject people to differential treatment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status. However, sexual orientation and gender identity are not included under the ELCRA.

“In addition for fostering a culture of inclusion, respect and fairness at work, Kellogg Company seeks a community free of discrimination,” said Mark King, Chief Diversity Officer, Kellogg Company. “Supporting the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition reinforces our position against differential treatment, and we encourage other companies to consider joining the effort to protect LGBT rights.”

Many small business owners and about 75% of Michigan residents support updating the ELCRA, according to 2014 surveys on the issue.  Many communities across Michigan have already updated their civil rights ordinances to reflect the need for economic growth and talent development.

“In the global battle for jobs and economic growth, the most welcoming regions for talent and hard work will be the most successful ones,” said Jim Murray, AT&T Michigan President and an MCWC co-chair. “Our economic recovery in Michigan will only grow if we become a state where everyone can rely on an equal employment opportunity.”