Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

September 3, 2013

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Is diversity a threat, or virtue to cherish?

Freedom Indiana believes it's the latter

(Continued)

In a smart political move, the backers of Freedom Indiana hired a veteran Indiana Republican operative, Megan Robertson, to direct their campaign.

In one of her first emails to potential supporters, Robertson wrote how HJR-6 violates what we hold dear: “Hoosiers from across the state — Libertarian, Democrat and Republican, young and old, gay and straight — have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to show that in Indiana, we believe in protecting freedoms, not taking them away.”

That was followed by an email offering supporters a free bumper sticker with the phrase “Liberty for all Hoosiers” prominently displayed.

For legislators unswayed by that plea, here’s where the rubber could hit the road: Indiana’s biggest job creators, including Cummins and Eli Lilly, are behind Freedom Indiana. For them, HJR-6 is a stinging rebuke to the Hoosier hospitality politicians say has helped Indiana recruit jobs and economic investment for our state.

Is diversity a threat or a strength to embrace? Here’s one answer, from one of Indiana’s biggest job creators, Toyota Motor North America, which employs 4,700 workers at its $4.2 billion plant in rural southwest Indiana and generates another 10,000 jobs through its Indiana suppliers. Last year, Toyota was named by the online magazine, DiversityInc., as one of the Top 10 companies in the U.S. for its commitment to hiring gay and lesbian employees and one of the Top 50 companies for its commitment to diversity.

The CEO of Toyota North America greeted the award with these words: “At Toyota, we believe inclusiveness and diversity are essential to our business and act as a strong catalyst to drive our success.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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