Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people continue to increase, fueled in part by legislative attacks in state, local, and national governments. In the last 18 months, an estimated 162 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 35 state legislatures in the United States alone. Moreover, in 68 countries around the world, it is still illegal to be gay. This weekend’s horrific attack in Colorado is emblematic of why changes are needed in America's legislative process. In this climate, the business world has a unique opportunity to lead the pro-equality coalition. Building upon over 12 years of business-led advocacy on five continents, today Out Leadership announces the hiring of outgoing Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Brian Sims to assume a newly created position, Managing Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs.
In this new role, Sims will expand Out Leadership’s advocacy across the United States, leveraging the resources and influence of 98 member firms to convene urgent state-level conversations on LGBTQ+ issues and public policy. This work will build upon the ground-breaking Out Leadership LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index, which for four years has ranked all 50 US states on LGBTQ+ policies, and the business impact on the state. Sims will collaborate with Out Leadership’s non-profit partners, member companies, and other strategic allies to help business leaders and companies drive policymakers to create business environments in all 50 states that drive both societal change and bottom-line impact.
Brian Sims became the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2012. As a legislator, he worked to remove homosexuality from the state criminal code and voted to expand protections for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. As a passionate advocate for human rights, Sims defended access to reproductive healthcare, fought for criminal justice reform, and sought solutions to environmental issues disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities. Now, Sims will take that fight across the country and around the globe, focusing on the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality.
“After ten years advancing equality in one of the toughest legislative environments in the country, I anticipate an even greater challenge to LGBTQ+ rights in the next decade. I’ve seen how businesses can be powerful advocates for justice and equality as strong partners to governments, and I believe the demanding prospects of anti-LGBTQ+ policy from governments across the nation and around the world necessitates the kind of immediate and influential advocacy only the voice of business can provide,” says Sims. “With my career as a lawmaker coming to an end, I’m excited to spend the next chapter harnessing an expedient pro-equality coalition to advance human rights across industries and over borders.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Brian Sims for over fifteen years in various capacities, and have always been impressed with the incredible passion, intellect and strategic approach Brian brings to his advocacy,” says Todd Sears, Founder and CEO of Out Leadership. “He will be an excellent partner to our CEOs, companies, and leaders as they continue to leverage their economic power in every state and country where they operate, to direct policymakers to create LGBTQ+ inclusive, business-friendly environments.”
“The creation of Brian's role is the natural expansion of what we’ve proven over the last thirteen years since I founded Out Leadership in 2010,” Sears continued. “Businesses that embrace LGBTQ+ inclusive policies see greater returns on their investments and stronger earnings than companies that do not. Why? Because more diverse leaders draw on a wider range of experiences to consider a greater variety of possibilities in the market – allowing them to make better business decisions. That’s Return on Equality™."