Tim Cook Pens Op-Ed in Defense of Workplace Equality

By Michelle Maisto  |  Print this article Print

Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Obama both penned opinion pieces Nov. 3 in support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, a man of notoriously few words, when not presenting new products on a stage, penned an opinion piece, published Nov. 3 by The Wall Street Journal, in favor of equality in the workplace.

People are happiest, and so their best, most creative selves, when they don't have to check their sexual identities at the workplace door, Cook argues.

"As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights," wrote Cook. "It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We've found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives."

Cook goes on to say that Apple's anti-discrimination policy extends beyond federal protections, since it prohibits discrimination against its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, but he hopes that all Americans will be soon be entitled to such policies.

"A bill now before the U.S. senate would update those employment laws, at long last, to protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," Cook wrote. "We urge senators to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), and we challenge the House of Representatives to bring it to the floor for a vote."

Cook added in conclusion, "So long as the law remains silent on the workplace rights of gay and lesbian Americans, we as a nation are effectively consenting to discrimination against them."

President Obama promoted ENDA in a blog post published by the Huffington Post  the same day.

"Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law," the president wrote.

Americans can't be fired because of their religious choices, or the color of their skin, he continued. "And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As a result, millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs—not because of anything they've done, but simply because of who they are."

ENDA has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994, and similar legislation has been introduced, without passing, since 1974, according to Wikipedia.

The bill was introduced to the 113th Congress on April 25 by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

The Act proposes to "address the history and persistent, widespread pattern of discrimination, including unconstitutional discrimination, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by private-sector employers and local, state and federal government employers."

It also seeks to provide explicit and comprehensive prohibitions against employment discrimination and enforce the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, to prohibit employment discrimination "on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity."

President Obama, in his blog post, said ENDA would build on recent progress made, by standing up to hate crimes, ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military and, among other ways, by passing the Violence Against Women Act.

"America is at a turning point," President Obama wrote. "We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.