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B Lab Statement on North Carolina HB2 and B Corp Champions Retreat

The 2016 B Corp Champions Retreat and related events will be relocated from North Carolina in light of a newly enacted State law called HB2 which limits anti-discrimination protections, particularly for members of the LGBT community.

B Lab’s press release on North Carolina HB2 and B Corp Champions Retreat

Last October, B Lab announced that the 2016 B Corp Champions Retreat would be held in North Carolina. The annual B Corp Champions Retreat is the largest gathering of the global B Corp community, and comprises events like the annual global gathering of B Corp CEOs and executives; a series of public talks and street festival called B Inspired; a conference for the economic development arms of 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.

In late March, the Governor of North Carolina signed HB2, a law that B Lab believes makes the state an unfriendly place for the LGBT community and those that care about them. The law also appears to remove the civil rights of all people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits with the State of North Carolina based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap, and eliminates the ability for cities in North Carolina to support a living wage.

Given our plans to hold the 2016 B Corp Champions Retreat in North Carolina in October, and thus to ask members of our global community to travel to North Carolina where they may now feel unsafe, B Lab carried out a process described below to determine whether the Retreat should stay in North Carolina or relocate, as well as if and how the B Corp community might engage on the issue.

On Saturday April 9th, the below recommendation was approved by the B Lab Board of Directors and Global Governance Council.

Due to HB2, the global B Corp community will withdraw its October Retreat and related events from North Carolina.

Immediately, we will begin work with the North Carolina B Corp community and friends to: 1) get HB2 off the books; and 2) minimize any potential negative impact from this decision on their community building efforts.

If HB2 is repealed or struck down by the courts before June 30th (the end of the NC legislative session which begins on April 25th), the global B Corp community will resume our plans to come to North Carolina for the 2016 Champions Retreat and related events.

As suggested by the above decision, our engagement is as important as our withdrawal. Over the next few weeks, B Lab will determine the best manner to engage the global B Corp community to support local leadership to get HB2 off the books.

Below is a description of the rationale for and process by which we made our decision.

Rationale:

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. If we are to “be the change we seek in the world” and conduct business “as if people and place mattered” (The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence), we should not hold a global gathering in a location where recent legislation creates an environment that conflicts with our core values.

Relocating and engaging can have a direct impact on creating the change we seek. Ours is a powerful community of leaders comprised of almost 1,700 companies from around the world. Though we are a small community, our actions can have big ripple effects. Relocating the retreat will make clear that the Governor’s and Legislature’s actions have consequences, and may inspire others to follow. Simultaneously, engaging to work 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.

Safety & Comfort: Our global movement represents tens of thousands of employees around the world, and we are committed to the dignity and safety of all members of our community. We cannot ask members of the LGBT community to travel to a state where they do not feel safe or comfortable and may feel threatened. Hosting the Champions Retreat and other events in North Carolina would effectively be asking members of our community to choose between their identities as members of the LGBT community and as members the B Corp community. That is not a choice we want them to have to consider.

Process:

Our process was designed to elevate the voices of all of our stakeholders in order to reach a decision in the best interest of the global B Corp community. Feedback was obtained from the following groups:

•  Global B Corp Community: B Lab reached out to the B Corp community on this issue and received over 300 responses, including from community members in North Carolina, others inside and outside of the United States, and those who self-identified as members of the LGBT community.
•  North Carolina B Corp Community & Champions Retreat Steering Committee
•  B Lab Inclusion & Diversity Committee
•  B Lab Staff
•  B Lab Board of Directors and Global Governance Council

B Lab’s co-founders and representatives from the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, B Corp Community Team, and Mission Alignment/Policy Team met to review and discuss the feedback obtained through these avenues and research on HB2 compiled by the Inclusion & Diversity. A consensus emerged around the recommendation summarized above.

Throughout this process, B Lab has been deeply humbled by the B Corp community’s level of caring and thoughtful engagement on the issue. We appreciate all those who have reached out to share information and insights.

Questions may be directed to Vale Jokisch, director of B Lab’s Community Engagement team.

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