Editor’s note: David Spitz is chief executive officer of global ecommerce company ChannelAdvisor which is based in Morrisville. WRAL TechWire asked Spitz to share his views after he tweeted support of the legislation. He explains why the company has decided to become a public advocate for the bill and other equality issues, joining other corporate executives in speaking out for change beyond their own corporate environments. 

MORRISVILLE – In 1776, the human condition took a giant leap forward when the framers of American democracy proclaimed that people had an “inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”   At the time, these principles applied in practice only to land-owning white men, and in the 245 years since, we as a nation have worked to extend these principles to all people, through the Emancipation Proclamation, the Equal Protection Clause, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and many Supreme Court cases.  The arc of history is clear: sometimes the force of law is necessary to protect and extend those principles, advance the human condition, and help America continue to deliver on the promise of forming a “more perfect union.”

ChannelAdvisor’s David Spitz

The Equality Act is proposed legislation that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The legislation has been passed by the House of Representatives and is currently being considered by the Senate.  Although the last twenty years have seen a rapid evolution in Americans’ acceptance and perception of gay rights[1], rights which were further solidified in the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County[2], we know that members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to suffer many indignities and discrimination in daily life[3].

At ChannelAdvisor, we believe that everyone’s potential is maximized when they are free to be who they are without fear or retribution.  Since our founding twenty years ago, we have had policies in place to recognize and ensure equal treatment of our employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, such as offering domestic partner benefits.  However, in 2020, like much of corporate America and as part of our own efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion, we decided that merely focusing on our own internal culture and policies wasn’t enough.

We decided that we have an obligation to use our voice and our influence to more publicly support the causes, policies, and, in some cases, legislation that strengthen these principles, not only to support our employees, but to positively influence the communities in which we live.  We believe advocating for our employees is not only the right thing to do, but that it is also good for our business because it helps us attract and retain incredibly talented individuals, each of whom brings unique experiences and perspectives that we value deeply.

For these reasons, we support the Equality Act and encourage its passage by Congress to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly, and with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

[1] Pew Research Center, Attitudes on Same Sex Marriage, May 2019

[2] U.S. Supreme Court, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, October 2019

[3] Center for American Progress, Widespread Discrimination Continues to Shape LGBT People’s Lives in Both Subtle and Significant Ways, May 2017