INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Members of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association (ITIA) gathered at the Statehouse today to urge the Legislature to pass a clear, comprehensive and inclusive bias crimes law.
ITIA, which launched in November, represents more than 100 technology companies across the state and Indiana’s fastest growing sector.
The Indiana General Assembly is considering bias crimes legislation this year, but the Indiana Senate recently stripped the bill of its enumerated list of characteristics, including race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, and age.
ITIA today urged the House of Representatives to add the list back in and pass a true, enforceable bias crimes law this year. Governor Eric Holcomb has also advocated for this change.
“Passing a fully inclusive bias crimes statute demonstrates to our employees, our prospective employees and our community that Indiana is a safe and welcoming place for them to live and work,” said CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Chief Analytics Officer Bob Stutz who was represented today by ITIA Board Member and Salesforce Director of Midwest State and Local Government Affairs Amy Waggoner.
Indiana is one of only 5 states without a bias crimes law, and 44 of the 45 states with a bias crimes law include a list of enumerated characteristics to ensure the law is enforceable.
“Technology is Indiana’s fastest growing sector, but we’re in a death match for talent. There aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the jobs we’re creating,” said John McDonald, CEO and Co-Founder of ClearObject and ITIA Board Member. “Having Indiana on the list of 5 states without a bias crimes law is a barrier to attracting skilled talent to our state. We can’t get off this unflattering ‘list of 5,’ without a list.”
“If we’re going to continue to operate in the Hoosier state and stay competitive, we have to be able to recruit and retain talent,” said Jon Gilman, CEO of Clear Software. “Let’s take unnecessary recruitment barriers off the table and pass a comprehensive, inclusive bias crimes law this year.”
Several ITIA members who were negatively impacted by the 2015 passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) fear similar fallout if a comprehensive bias crimes law fails to pass this year.
“Our company was preparing to relocate to Fishers, Indiana from Southern California, just as RFRA gained national attention. Unfortunately, it cost us our Chief Operations Officer and my right-hand man who decided not to relocate here because of concerns about Indiana’s inclusiveness and diversity,” said Anderson Schoenrock, CEO of Memory Ventures. “My fear now – is that if legislators pass a bias crimes law without a list or, once again, fail to pass one – we will face a backlash similar to what occurred after RFRA and threaten our industry’s growth.”
Joshua Driver, a member of the LGBT community and CEO of Selfless.ly, founded Open For Service after RFRA to combat the negative reputation harming the tech industry.
“Passing a bias crimes law without a list will counteract all of the work we’ve done in recent years to rebuild our state’s reputation, share Indiana’s story and grow our industry,” Driver said. “We urge our representatives to pass a bias crimes law with enumerated characteristics that include sexual orientation and gender identity.”
He also noted the lingering effects of RFRA that will likely worsen without passage of a true bias crimes law.
“These policies can lead to employee losses as well as investment losses. An investment group my company hoped to pitch wouldn’t even consider us because they had made the decision not to invest in Indiana companies after RFRA,” Driver said.
ITIA members will be sending a letter to members of the Indiana House of Representatives today asking them to stand with Governor Eric Holcomb and add the list of enumerated characters back into the bias crimes legislation before passage.
“We need to send a strong message that Indiana is a welcoming, diverse state,” McDonald said.
A PHOTO from today’s press conference is available here. PICTURED LEFT RIGHT: (Ray Ontko with Doxpop, Jon Gilman with Clear Software, Joshua Driver with Selfless.ly and Open For Service, Anderson Schoenrock with Memory Ventures, John McDonald with ClearObject, Amy Waggoner with Salesforce, John Wechsler with Launch Fishers and Indiana IoT Lab, Ade Olonoh an angel investor)
The Indiana Technology & Innovation Association (ITIA) is a statewide association of Indiana’s technology driven companies and partners. ITIA represents more than 100 technology companies across the state and Indiana’s fastest growing sector. More information at indianatechnology.org.
Based in Fishers, ClearObject is an Internet of Things (IoT) systems integrator that designs, develops, deploys, and manages innovative connected solutions and digital data products. More information at www.clearobject.com.
About Memory Ventures
Based in Fishers, Memory Ventures encompasses 8 direct to consumer brands all of which help consumers preserve, share and enjoy their favorite life moments. More information at www.memoryventures.com.
About Clear Software
Based in Zionsville, Clear Software is a process automation platform that helps large organizations dramatically improve their operational efficiency. More information at clearsoftware.com.
Based in Indianapolis, Selfless.ly logs, tracks, and maintains all charitable involvement in one place. It is then tracked in a system and provides important metrics for marketing, recruitment, and retention initiatives. More information at www.selflessly.io.