09 Jun Campaign of the Week | B Lab HB2 Bathroom Bill Protest
The Social Challenge:
When North Carolina introduced House Bill 2, which would force transgender citizens to use the bathroom listed on their birth certificate as well as remove the rights of all citizens to file anti-discrimination lawsuits with the State based on race; religion; color; nationality; age; sex; or handicap, the business community responded by moving conferences and events out of the state.
Yulu PR, a Vancouver-based Impact Relations agency and B Corp, received an email from B Lab asking its membership (1,700 global B Corps) whether the organization should also relocate its annual Champions Retreat to another state in protest. Yulu saw an opportunity for B Lab to influence change among businesses by speaking openly with the press on why the organization came to the decision to relocate.
The Strategy and Execution:
Yulu helped B Lab craft an official statement on why its membership elected to remove the Champions retreat out of North Carolina. Yulu incorporated the feedback of the more than 300 email respondents into its statement, which included self-identified members of the LGBTQ community.
The organization’s rationale: HB2 was contrary to B Lab’s core values of inclusion and creating a shared and durable prosperity for all. It also compromised the safety and comfort of parts of members who would have to travel to a state where they might feel unwelcome or threatened. Finally, B Lab had a responsibility to demonstrate that the government’s actions had consequences, while engaging with its North Carolinian membership on the best ways to effect change from within.
B Lab voiced its opinion on the importance of trans rights alongside several high-profile companies, artists and progressive states who either stood up around the same time or followed suit.
In response to B Lab’s statement, Fortune, Buzzfeed, Mashable, The Atlantic and Associated Press picked up the story, among many others. HB2 was repealed in March 2017, after the state took an economic hit due to businesses and revenue-generating conferences taking their business elsewhere. The list of lost opportunities included being a host city to the NCAA basketball championships, concerts by Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams, and an opportunity to house the new PayPal headquarters, among others.
There’s still work to do, though, as the replacement bill passed in the spring of 2017 leaves bathroom regulation in the hands of the state and prevents local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances. B Lab continues to work with its members in North Carolina toward a solution, and groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC are steadfast in their fight for greater LGBTQ equality in the state.
North Carolina continues to feel the fallout of the controversial bill, which is projected to cost billions in lost revenue over the next ten years if the government doesn’t bow to pressure.