Last weekend, I joined the CEOs of 13 leading technology companies including Dell, Facebook, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, HPE and Google in writing to Gov. Greg Abbott to express our steadfast opposition to the introduction and passage of any discriminatory legislation in Texas. As large employers in the state, we signed this letter because we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas’ reputation as open and friendly to business and families. Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected.
Since Senate Bill 6 was proposed at the beginning of the 2017 legislative session, Silicon Labs has worked with the Texas Association for Business and a coalition of 80 major Texas employers known as Keep Texas Open for Business to advocate against bathroom bill legislation. We met with the legislators serving on the Senate Committee on State Affairs, and testified against the bill in March. When the bill was taken up in the House, we delivered a letter of opposition to the House State Affairs Committee and House Speaker Joe Straus. Although the language on the bills has evolved, we believe the intent remains the same.
Silicon Labs is a Texas-headquartered public company with a 20-year history of growth and success and more than 1,200 employees worldwide — half of whom are based in Texas. Like many other tech companies, we have a highly diverse and skilled workforce, increasingly comprising millennials who value an open and inclusive environment. We often have to compete for the best and brightest talent with companies in other countries as well as states such as California, New York and Massachusetts. Over the years, Texas has been known as a hotbed for innovation, growth, and economic progress. This reputation has been key to our ability to attract and retain talent, but talented workers are expressing concern about moving to or staying in a state pursuing discriminatory policies.
Simply put, I believe bathroom legislation is bad for our employees and bad for business. It is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Rather than sending a message that Texas has a diverse and inclusive business environment, this type of legislation demonstrates that discrimination is welcome in our state. Texas should not follow the example of North Carolina, which has lost billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and devolved into political dysfunction as lawmakers pushed similar legislation.
I commend Speaker Straus for standing firm with the business community to reject discrimination, despite threats of a special session from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Our economy is stronger when Texas is open for business to everyone, and I urge Gov. Abbott and the Legislature to side with the business community and to not pursue legislation of this kind.
Disclosure: Tyson Tuttle has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.