It’s a great day for Arizona…
And also for America, as comedian Craig Ferguson says… thanks to the DEFEAT of Arizona’s anti-gay legislation known as SB1062.
While I normally avoid political controversy here, couldn’t pass on this one. Besides, there are several good consulting lessons to be shared.
First, a little background. SB1062 was ostensibly meant to protect religious freedom by picking on the GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) community. In reality, it was pandering to certain religious conservatives.
Been here eighteen years now. Arizona is a beautiful place with strange politics. Sadly, this is not the first instance of discrimination we’ve seen here. But with this veto, maybe Arizona (just over 100 years old) is finally starting to grow up. I hope so.
As a good consultant, I was very annoyed by what Dr. Alan Weiss (Million Dollar Consulting and more) refers to as DASM – Dumb Ass Stupid Management. Or in this case – DASP – Dumb Ass Stupid Politics.
But what to do? Write to my legislators? Never been very successful in the past. But something needed to be done, so I decided to write anyway.
Sent e-mails to my state senator and my two state representatives. At first, only the senator replied, but the results were eventually worth it.
Here is my first e-mail. I focused on the effects on high-tech business – my area of expertise – and a pet concern of our governor. Didn’t rant, but tried to keep it polite and professional.
As a constituent, can you please explain WHY you voted for SB1062?
As a long time Arizona HIGH-TECH business owner, trying to understand what you were thinking from a business perspective.
Getting a bit weary of trying to explain to my well educated HIGH-TECH clients across the US just what is going on in Arizona.
Finally, if you really want to attract HIGH-TECH business in Arizona, you need to start practicing HIGH-TOLERANCE. (See “The Rise of the Creative Class” and more by Dr. Richard Florida.)
I await your response…
And here is the reply from my state Senator:
Thank you for caring enough to contact me about this bill. First, let me say that I do not condone discrimination in any form. In my view, SB 1062 merely clarified what is currently in statute. That is why I voted for it.
It is obvious that many others disagree with my point of view – and are reacting accordingly.
The bill has now been transmitted to the Governor. I am confident that she will review all sides and decide what is best for the State of Arizona.
As his response was polite but noncommittal, I decided to bore down a bit. Laid out some specific details and examples of WHY this bill was so bad for high technology. Cited some research, and made some suggestions.
Thank you for your response, and I appreciate your courtesy.
Like you, I do not tolerate discrimination. Unfortunately, I fear this bill sends the WRONG message to the WRONG people that discrimination is OK in Arizona.
Another unintended consequence is the black eye this has given Arizona. Not only may this affect tourism, it also affects our ability to attract high-technology firms.
As Dr. Richard Florida’s research (“The Rise of the Creative Class” and others) has shown, high tech professionals are attracted to cities with high civic tolerance (often indicated a large gay community.)
Thus, cities such as Austin, Portland, Boston, San Francisco, and Minneapolis continue to be high-tech magnets, while Phoenix struggles. (I’ve seen this as a consulting engineer serving a nationwide clientele.)
When I moved here 18 years ago, Motorola was the largest employer — now it is WalMart. Not good…
Finally, here are two suggestions:
(1) Think about the adverse consequences the next time an issue like this is advanced. First SB1070 (the “show me your papers” anti-immigrant bill), now SB1062.
(2) Join your colleagues who voted for this who are now urging Governor Brewer to VETO this bill. Do what is BEST for Arizona.
It is not too late to fix this. Thanks again for listening.
The pleasant surprise was this response:
I appreciate your thoughtful response. Your points are well taken. The bill, if signed, will hurt our state.
My plans are to meet with the Governor on Wednesday and request that she not sign the bill.
Wow – I may have actually helped changed some thinking! But this is the essence of consulting – changing minds and making things better.
I realize it was much more than my input that changed things. There was a ground swell of support from many other businesses. But every little bit helps.
So what consulting lessons can be gleaned from this political fiasco?
- Lesson 1 – Address REAL problems – not imaginary ones. As the Governor stated in her veto message, this legislation did not address any real problems – past or present. Good advice for consultants too. Don’t be the Music Man touting non-problems in River City.
- Lesson 2 – Don’t obfuscate or pander. This legislation was cloaked as a religious issue, designed to garner votes from a narrow political base. As a consultant, your job is to solve problems – not to score political points or to win a popularity contest.
- Lesson 3 – Change things for the better. Yes, some people resist change, but change is part of life. Often a consultant is there to facilitate change, particularly when badly needed.
- Lesson 4 – You CAN make a difference. If you see something that is wrong, speak up, regardless of consequences. And discrimination is WRONG – period. Don’t stew about it — take action!
Hmmm… pretty good advice for our elected officials too…
Finally heard from one of my two state representatives. Also polite, and expressing his regret for originally supporting this legislation. So maybe a couple of minds have been changed for the better. I sincerely hope so.
Never did hear from the other guy. Oh well, you can’t win them all. But it does make you wonder about his sincerity in being a “representative.”
And now, back to our regular programming…
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