Protesting North Carolina Law, B Corp Relocates Conference

Protesting North Carolina Law, B Corp Relocates Conference

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After considering feedback from 300 community members, B Corp decided this week to relocate its 2016 “Champions Retreat” from North Carolina to another location. The move is a protest against the state’s recently-passed law blocking cities and counties from protecting people from discrimination, based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in restaurants, hotels, taxis or any form of public accommodation – a law the New York Times described as “one that yanks North Carolina back in time.”

B Corp is the governing and certifying body for the world’s 1,600 B Corps, which use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, and meet rigorous standards of overall social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.  Clean Yield has been a B Corp member and a registered Vermont Benefit Corporation since 2011.

As anyone who’s visited the state knows, North Carolina is diverse. Churches both small- and mega-sized occupy a fair degree of real estate, yet Asheville’s crunch-groovy vibes nearly rival those of Berkeley, Burlington or Cambridge. Republican lawmakers only succeeded in passing the bill by springing it unexpectedly on the legislature in a late-night session, causing a walkout of their Democratic counterparts. The bill was hastily concocted to revoke a law enacted in Charlotte last month extending equal rights to transgender people, including the right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. It has been widely reported that the equal bathroom access provisions triggered the legislature to act.

While it’s painful to take actions that will have negative economic reverberations on undeserving people, we heartily support B Corp’s decision and are pleased to join other voices from the business community in taking a stand against an attempt to meld church and state that is hiding behind unfounded hysteria about the occupants of the next stall over.

At some level, these legislators must know that sexual predation by heterosexual men disguised as women in restrooms isn’t even “a thing.” Furthermore, as activist Charlie Comero points out, with great unintended irony the new law mandates that North Carolina women will now have to share powder rooms with masculine-appearing trans men if they are still ‘technically’ female. In this respect, the law could ruffle more feathers than the one it revoked.

Boycotting fellow Americans is less difficult knowing that B Corp has pledged to work with allies in North Carolina to minimize any potential negative impact from this decision on their community building efforts, and to try to get the new law off the books. “Our engagement is as important as our withdrawal,” B Corp said in a statement. We concur in that as well, and congratulate B Corp on making the right decision.

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