Lilly slams Indiana's new 'religious freedom' law
- Indianapolis-based pharma giant Eli Lilly is among the consortium of companies strongly criticizing a new Indiana state law that many believe would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans.
- Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which supporters say is simply meant to protect religious liberty in the state, into law on Thursday.
- Lilly has a nearly 12,000-employee workforce in Indiana. The company, alongside the state's Chamber of Commerce, lobbied hard to scrap the bill, arguing that it could have a chilling effect on LGBT employees and could discourage potential workers from moving to a state in which such a law is in place.
The business community in Indiana has consistently been opposed to the legislation. "In our eyes, the law is entirely unnecessary," said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, in a statement to CNN. "Passing the law was always going to bring the state unwanted attention."
The law's proponents say that the bill isn't meant to discriminate against anybody at all—in fact, it's ostensibly about protecting residents from discrimination. But many major companies around the U.S., including Salesforce, Yelp, and the NCAA, aren't buying that logic.
"We certainly understand the implications this legislation has on our ability to attract and retain employees," said Lilly spokeswoman Janice Chavers. "Simply put, we believe discriminatory legislation is bad for Indiana and for business."
UPDATE: A Lilly spokesperson sent BioPharma Dive the company's full statement. Here it is:
"Discriminatory legislation is bad for Indiana and for business. That’s one key reason we worked with the Indiana Chamber and other businesses in an attempt to defeat the legislation.
One of our long-held values is respect for people, and that value factors strongly into our position. We want all our current and future employees to feel welcome where they live.
We certainly understand the implications this legislation has on our ability to attract and retain employees. As we recruit, we are searching for top talent all over the world. We need people who will help find cures for such devastating diseases as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Many of those individuals won’t want to come to a state with laws that discriminate.
We also are concerned that divisive actions like this divert the state’s attention away from pressing issues like education and economic development.
The outcome on this particular piece of legislation has been disappointing. We will continue our efforts to make Lilly and Indiana a welcoming place for all."