Carolyn McMaster | April 12, 2016
This week the community of nearly 1,700 Certified B Corps took a stand for civil rights by publicly announcing its decision to withdraw the annual B Corp leadership conference from North Carolina unless HB2, the state’s recent anti-LGBT law, is repealed.
It’s absolutely the right choice—in addition to its focused discrimination against LBGT people, this noxious law appears to remove the civil rights of all people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits with the state based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap, and eliminates the ability of cities in North Carolina to support a living wage. Pulling our business out of North Carolina is a message politicians will understand, and it’s a move that keeps media attention on the issue.
This is the first time B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps and holds the community together, has taken an issue-based political stance. It did so because ultimately, the action aligns with B Corps’ credo to use business as a force for good. Here are excerpts from B Lab’s statement:
HB2 is contrary to our B Corp values. We believe that an inclusive movement of people using business as a force for good is integral to creating a shared and durable prosperity for all. HB2 stands in direct opposition to the values we strive to uphold as a community.
Relocating and engaging can have a direct impact on creating the change we seek. Relocating the retreat will make clear that the Governor’s and Legislature’s actions have consequences, and may inspire others to follow. Simultaneously, [working] with the NC B Corp community and those most affected by HB2 to change the law will also make clear that we stand for building bridges towards an inclusive economy, even when doing so is hard.
Prior to the decision, B Lab sought input from all B Corps. We Thinkshifters were inspired by the universally thoughtful comments, both for keeping the event in North Carolina to support local B Corps and demonstrate positive values, and for moving it. Most commenters favored making the move, making it public, and taking action. Our comments include:
Electing not to hold our event in the state sends a stronger message than staying. Money is what politicians understand, and not spending our dollars in the state is a better message for them.
It is likely that all cancelled business with the state will get media coverage. And with effective media outreach our decision could be amplified and powerful. It would be a way for the hundreds of U.S. B Corps to make a direct public stand for the rights of the LGBT community— and for all civil rights. And our stand would be backed by some of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.
If we stay, we should take action—but it would need to be big, newsworthy, effective political action that won’t just be interpreted as “outside agitators” who can be ignored.
If we move it, we should find some way to support the NC B Corp community that is substantive, meaningful and public.
The hateful North Carolina legislation has no place in America, or anywhere. We are proud that we have earned our place among a community of businesses that share our values and actively work to make business a force for good.