Indiana technology companies advocate for inclusive bias crimes law

NOW: Indiana technology companies advocate for inclusive bias crimes law

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Indiana Senate recently stripped down a hate crimes bill of its list of protected characteristics including race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association, a group over 100 technology companies representing Indiana’s fastest growing sector gathered at the statehouse asking the legislature to add the list back in and pass an enforceable bias crimes law this year.

Members of the ITIA say being on the list of five states without a hate crimes law is an obstacle to attracting skilled talent to the state.

ITIA board member and CEO of ClearObject, John McDonald, says there are not enough skilled workers to fill the jobs that are being created in the technology industry.

“We see this as very clearly a workforce and talent issue. The technology business is the fastest growing sector in Indiana, and I and the other leaders of our industry are in a death match for talent,” McDonald said.

Several members say they were negatively impacted by the 2015 passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and are worried there will be similar backlash if a comprehensive bias crimes law doesn’t pass this year.

On Wednesday, the association brought three companies up to the podium to share stories about how this has impacted their company.

The association says having an inclusive and enforceable bias crimes law shows employees and prospective employees that the Hoosier state is a safe and welcoming place to live and work.

“There can be no reason why anyone would select out of coming to work for a company in Indiana particularly because they believe we here in the state are unwelcoming and not diverse,” said McDonald.

McDonald says there are technology companies all over Indiana, even South Bend. He says that this is a statewide issue.  

“We all need technology to be able to move our companies forward and differentiate our products in the marketplace and make them competitive,” he said.

Governor Eric Holcomb has supported inclusive hate crime legislation.

44 of the 45 states with a bias crimes law include a list of protected characteristics to guarantee the law is enforceable.

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