“In today’s economy” is an often used phrase that tries to reassure everyone that the timing is somehow different and the reasoning behind a decision to be made, and usually a difficult one at that, has to be immediate.
But in the case of discrimination or the need to work against it, timing could not be more relevant to our socioeconomics or social well being. Levels of tolerance and acceptance are growing and doors are being opened with scores of victims who don’t fear speaking up anymore. Society is beginning to wake up and consumers are wielding their discretionary dollars against businesses, sports teams, television programs and award shows that don’t recognize the need for change and protection of vulnerable groups of people.
News of racism, sexism and other predatory or discriminatory acts results in more than just fines and firings. Once the news hits, the reactions are swift, hard felt, if not fatal. CEOs and political leaders are understanding the affects of looking away and are more aware of why they have to speak out.
Protection of any at-risk demographic makes us a richer and healthier society. Calls for avoiding the need for a non-discrimination executive order can only be valid if there is no case to answer. But we know that’s not true.
The leaders of today who champion positive change and protect those they represent are also the leaders of tomorrow. Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to issue an executive order on behalf of LGBT state workers, and indeed all Kansans, isn’t a brave one anymore. It is the right thing to do for the residents, the businesses and the reputation of a state that values treating people fairly — and it ensures that Kansas is truly somewhere that we can all call home with pride.
As a business owner, home owner and resident of this great state, I applaud not just Gov. Kelly’s determination to sign this executive order, but her willingness to do so early in her term of leadership. She also clearly recognizes that it’s doing the right thing, in today’s economy.
Sean Barnard is Owner of Bambou Salons & Spas in Overland Park and Blue Springs.