As a lifelong businessman who’s been in the retail jewelry business for 41 years, Bob Goodman has learned more than a few lessons about the best practices for fostering a strong business environment.
“I started in retail jewelry when I was 16 or 17, traveling the markets with my father and later selling,” Bob said, remembering his time learning the ropes with his dad and mom. “One of the things my dad taught me when he sent me out to sell was to never make an assumption about anyone who walks in. However people are dressed, whatever they look like, or whoever they are, if they’re a customer, we should serve them.”
“Everyone has to be helped the exact same way – none of the other stuff matters,” he said. “Everyone is equal.”
That value is really at the core of why Bob and his wife Rose-Marie are getting involved with Indiana Competes, the coalition of businesses in Indiana making the case for comprehensive non-discrimination protections that include all Hoosiers, including LGBT people.
In early 2015, Robert Goodman Jewelers was one of the first businesses in Zionsville to post an “Open for Service” sticker on its storefront, a sticker that indicated the business was welcoming to all people. The sticker campaign emerged following the Indiana Legislature’s passage of a so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which ignited a national conversation about the importance of treating everyone equally.
“I looked at that sticker as a display of supporting what was right,” Bob said. “Both Rose-Marie and I believe that when it comes to important issues, you can’t be quiet – and I consider discrimination one of the most important issues out there.”
The bottom line, Bob knows, is that discrimination is bad for business – many businesses large and small understand that and have taken steps forward, with most already internally implementing non-discrimination policies covering both sexual orientation and gender identity. After all, every employee should be judged on their job performance – nothing more, nothing less.
Bob is on the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and also serves as the chair of the Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee, Through his role with the chamber, he has worked alongside colleagues to take measurable steps toward protecting all people from discrimination. Since the spring, he and his colleagues have encouraged the passage of an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, and in July, they were successful, joining dozens of Indiana cities – including Indianapolis and Columbus – with similar ordinances.
“It’s a very strong ordinance,” Bob said. “The local government created a non-discriminatory practices review committee, as it applies to the local ordinance. They created an ordinance that says Zionsville is a town welcoming to everyone. I’m very proud of that.”
But Bob knows that as strong as Zionsville’s local ordinance is, it’s critical that Indiana take steps to move non-discrimination forward statewide. In order to ensure that Indiana can compete with the 17 states that already have extended full protections to LGBT people, the state must ensure that no one can be discriminated against because of who they are.
“Anyone who walks into any business has the right to have a fair chance and be served,” he said. “Who you are and what you believe should have nothing to do with it.”