Supporting the LQBTQ community through nondiscrimination policies will result in a larger pool of talent to hire from.

When the Supreme Court recognized that the freedom to marry was constitutionally afforded to both straight and same-sex couples, many believed that LGBTQ people were now fully-protected. Unfortunately, there are still major gaps in fundamental areas of legal protection for LGBTQ people.

Ohio is one of 28 states that does not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, in access to housing and in accessing basic goods and services. It’s surprising to many that in 2017 this could still be the case. There are no federal nondiscrimination protections in place either.

Some cities in Ohio––such as Columbus and nearby Bexley––have enacted local ordinances that make this type of discrimination illegal. Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of Ohioans live in those areas. And as things stand, without a statewide law, an employee who works in Columbus but lives in a suburb could lose their rights on their commute.

It’s not uncommon for an LGBTQ job applicant to research the culture of the area when receiving a job offer––and it is easy to see where LGBTQ people are welcome both with state laws and local laws. Needless to say, this has an effect on recruitment.

The goal of recruitment is to attract the best and brightest talent, period. Sometimes that talent can come from your own backyard. But for some positions, the only way to find the right fit is with a national search. You can be competitive with things like compensation, but how you can compete with a similar employment package in a state that has modern and inclusive laws? It is difficult, but here are some tips:

Be clear about your values when recruiting.

Discrimination and diversity are two sides of a coin. Discrimination is to be avoided as a matter of policy. Diversity is aspirational: it is both something to work for and something that can always be improved. Potential talent needs to know that they won’t experience discrimination at your workplace and that the company fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion. It may help to demonstrate an inclusive culture by clearly communicating about any LGBTQ-affinity groups, such as an Employee Resource Group or company Pride group.

Demonstrate a commitment to the local LGBTQ community.

There are many opportunities to demonstrate your commitment to the LGBTQ community, such as sponsoring LGBTQ-focused events and participating in Pride. Highlighting your company’s participation through internal communications like an employee newsletter and onboarding process, as well as external communications like social media, will help to tell the story of your company’s commitment to inclusion.

Be proactive with a stand that Ohio should modernize its statewide law to be welcoming to LGBTQ people.

If your company utilizes government relations professionals, you can talk directly to lawmakers about the challenges that an out-of-date nondiscrimination law presents when it comes to recruitment. Consider all of the positive earned media that IBM received when defending Texans from a dangerous, anti-LGBTQ bathroom bill. Taking a proactive stance will help increase your competitive edge and encourage the best and brightest talent to call Ohio home.

Ohio’s laws have significant room for growth. In the meantime, to recruit top talent from a national pool, work to clearly show with your values and actions that LGBTQ people are welcome right here in central Ohio.

Alana Jochum is a board member of Ohio Business Competes.