Anti-discrimination effort gains momentum with Tech Data, Florida Blue, Cassidy Turley leadership

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Written By: Margie Manning

Executives from Tech Data, Cassidy Turley and Florida Blue are stepping up the fight to include discrimination protection for the LGBT community.

They’ve been named to leadership roles in Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, a group made up of more than a dozen major employers in the state. The organization supports pending legislation that would add anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to state laws.

Patrick Geraghty, chairman and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville, was named president. John Tonnison, executive vice president and worldwide chief information officer at Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD) in Clearwater will serve as secretary and Philip Dinkins, senior vice president of Cassidy Turley in Tampa, is treasurer.

Each of their companies values diversity, the executives said in a statement. The group also cited a link between strong anti-discrimination laws and the ability to draw the best and the brightest workforce, which they said is critical to the state’s long-term business success.

Employers with Tampa Bay ties that  also are part of the group include C1 Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, HSN, Raymond James, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Wells Fargo.

The organization has formed a 501c(4) committee, which allows limited lobbying under IRS rules.

Anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation have been controversial. Brenden Eich, formerly CEO of Mozilla Corp.,  resigned after controversy concerning his support  of California’s Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, stirred up employee and outsider backlash, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

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