Jack White Joins Nashville's New Gender Equity Council: Read His Speech
"I also must stress that the labels of gender and sexuality are completely up to the individual and not the people who employ them, or the government," said White.
Nashville's new 45-person Council on Gender Equity includes a slate of members you'd probably expect, such as city, business and nonprofit leaders, as well as one rock star you might not: Jack White.
Nashville mayor Megan Barry announced an executive order on Wednesday (July 13) to create a panel to study gender inequality in Music City's local government, with the White Stripes frontman included in the participants, The Tennessean reports.
"All human beings on this planet and in this society that we live in deserve to be treated the same," White said at the mayor's event on Wednesday, thanking the mayor for his inclusion. "They deserve to be treated the same in their social lives and in their financial and business careers as well."
White, a Nashville resident and business owner, has participated in civic service before as a part of former mayor Karl Dean's Nashville Music Business Council. In this instance, the rocker's Third Man Records — with locations in Nashville and now Detroit — employee benefits is being lauded as a model for all small businesses to follow, with health insurance for all employees, six-month paid maternity leave for new mothers, three-month paid paternity leave and a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all employees of all genders.
At the event, Barry called White "a great example about what a small business can do and that will help lead the conversation."
"Everyone deserves access to services and opportunities, regardless of gender," she said. "To make sure we have the right information to make these decisions, we need a group of smart, dedicated people who can do the necessary research, crunch the numbers and give us the advice on where we've been, where we are, where we need to go."
White encouraged other businesses to act just as his has, saying it is possible for big and small operations alike to succeed while giving their workers better wages and benefits.
"You won't go broke," White emphasized. "A person shouldn't need two jobs just to have food and shelter. And if small businesses like mine can do this, billion-dollar businesses like Walmart can do it as well.… Nothing is more important than a new life and new soul being brought into the world, and newborn parents should not have to worry about anything but the health and welfare of their child. If my small company can enact these ideas, than so can McDonald's and General Motors."
In White's new position, he will assist an advisory group tasked with what the mayor's office called "data-informed recommendations and advice" to address issues such as salaries and wages, economic opportunities, family services, health, safety and more where gender inequality may exist.
"I also must stress that the labels of gender and sexuality are completely up to the individual and not the people who employ them, or the government," White continued. "If a person is born into a different scenario or a different type of physical body, they shouldn't be treated in any degrading fashion. If they choose to represent themselves as transgender or gender-neutral even, it should not affect their wages or benefits or how they are treated by other human beings."
Our Nashville Council on Gender Equity: pic.twitter.com/vaz7rs6EWd— Megan Barry (@MayorMeganBarry) July 13, 2016
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.