As the Executive Vice President of PADNOS, a multi-million dollar company that employs nearly 400 people in Michigan and is dedicated to providing its customers with scrap management and recycling solutions, Shelley Padnos knows a thing or two about hiring top talent.
“Diversity is important to our company and to every company in the sense that you want to be able to have the best people that you can possibly get.”
But because Michigan’s laws currently allow discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, many talented, qualified potential employees are discouraged from calling Michigan home.
“Current laws in Michigan create a barrier to people considering either staying or moving to Michigan,” explains Shelley.
That’s why Shelley has joined the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition—a coalition of Michigan business leaders who want our state legislature to update the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression..
“I think the message that lawmakers need to send is that everybody is welcome in Michigan with open arms, and I think the way that they do that is that is by amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.”
According to a report issued by the Michigan Civil Rights Department in 2013, Michigan’s lack of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people is turning away top talent, particularly new college graduates.
While Shelley concedes that updating Michigan’s non-discrimination law won’t fully change hearts and minds overnight, she believes that in time it will. And “more importantly, it will send the message that Michigan really is open for business.”
Shelley isn’t just a successful business woman, she’s a philanthropist as well. Joined with her wife Carol Sarosik—an outspoken LGBT advocate in her own right—they have launched Our LGBT fund. With an initial focus on homeless LGBT youth, the foundation seeks to create equal opportunity for the LGBT community.
“It’s time to send kids, even gay kids, a clear message that they have a place in this world and that they are worthy, loved and truly respected,” explains Carol. By updating the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, we can level the playing field for all Michiganders, and show the country that our state is an open, welcoming and accepting state.