B Corp Companies Boycott US Over LGBT Laws
Thursday, 14th April 2016 at 10:10 am
Nearly 1,700 global Certified B Corporations, including Australian companies, are boycotting upcoming events in the American state of North Carolina in response to a controversial new law which limits the anti-discrimination protections for groups such as the LGBT community.
Known as House Bill 2 (HB2), the law requires people to use public bathrooms associated with the sex assigned on their birth certificate instead of the gender with which they identify, and most adversely affects transgender people.
One of the main events being cancelled is the annual global gathering of B Corp CEOs and executives to the champions retreat, which was set to take place in Durham, North Carolina (NC) where up to 30 B Corp CEO’s from Australia were expected to attend.
Other cancelled events in North Carolina include a series of public talks called B Inspired, another conference on economic development with city governments, corporate supply chain managers and impact investors called Measure What Matters, and a conference for university educators teaching business as a force for good.
“B Corps seek to build a more inclusive economy, and that is not possible with laws like HB2 on the books,” the co-founder of B Lab, the Not for Profit behind the B Corp movement, Jay Coen Gilbert said.
“HB2 appears to remove the civil right of all people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits with the state based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap. HB2 also eliminates the ability for cities in North Carolina to support a living wage.
“Through the upcoming legislative session, we will work closely with the North Carolina B Corp community and the LGBT community most affected by this law to make North Carolina more business friendly and enable us to return as soon as possible.”
B Lab is a Not for Profit organisation that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Pro Bono Australia was certified as a B Corporation in 2014. There are 1,674 Certified B Corporations in 130 industries and 48 countries, including 32 in North Carolina and 112 in Australia and New Zealand.
The executive director of B Lab in Australia, Alicia Darvall, said there was much debate here over whether it was better to attend the global champions retreat as a show of support for the B Lab community, or boycott the event as a strong sign that the HB2 law did not align with the the B Corp values.
“We decided that the boycott sends a strong message and it’s the right course of action. It’s a strong signal to North Carolina that we don’t support them,” Darvall said.
“Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the 40 B Corp companies who have been working and planning for more than a year for this event.”
She said B Lab would continue its advocacy campaign to strike out the HB2 law between now and when the NC legislature ends on 30 June.
Twenty-five Australian B Corp CEOs went to Portland Oregan in 2015 for the global champions retreat, including Pro Bono Australia founder and chief executive Karen Mahlab.