Corporate response to NC discrimination bill should be a warning
More than a year ago, North Carolina signed into law the infamous Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, commonly known as House Bill 2, or a “bathroom bill.” This piece of legislation, often considered to be one of the most anti-LGBTQ bills in modern times in the United States, required individuals in government and public buildings to use the restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates.
People born in North Carolina could have their birth certificates updated only if they had sexual reassignment surgeries; others would need to follow their state procedures on changing birth certificates. This law caused much controversy over the growing debate on transgender rights.
Recently, North Carolina partially repealed this law, enacting a new rule that prohibits any anti-discriminatory laws from being passed until 2020.
Regardless of the repeal, this was in no way a win for the LGBTQ community. North Carolina did not affirmatively give people the right to use the bathroom their gender identity aligns with; rather, the state prohibits even local communities from passing rules that would allow that.
Furthermore, the state had no regard for its constituents; it acted solely for economic reasons. This repeal was in response to many different events all revolving around one major force: basketball. Back in July 2016, the NBA was the first to make a move condemning House Bill 2, years before North Carolina was chosen to be the location of the 2017 All-Star game.
This three-day event is full of games, festivities and celebrities, and brings with it a lot of revenue. However, the NBA decided to change the location to New Orleans, citing a discriminatory environment that was not congruent with its values.
Recently, North Carolina has been under fire from the NCAA. First the NCAA showed their disapproval of the bill by moving games from North Carolina to South Carolina. This was followed by statements disqualifying North Carolina from being eligible to host the championship events through 2022.
This extended beyond just basketball. Other sports regulated by the NCAA, including baseball, soccer and lacrosse, were also impacted. If the NCAA follows through, North Carolina could be facing up to a $250 million loss.
One positive impact of this bill is that other states may be reluctant to pass anti-LGBTQ laws. Laws like House Bill 2 are now associated with large risk. States know could lose bids for sporting events, concerts and much more if organizations don’t approve of the social environment. This entire scenario makes one fact extremely clear: major players in our economy, such as the NBA and NCAA, have a huge influence on politics. It is an unfortunate truth that money speaks volumes.
However, this power is accompanied by corporate social responsibility. If they have such a large influence, institutions and corporations should promote messages of equality and ethical practices.
For many years, people have argued that businesses should stay neutral in political conversations, but this is no longer the case. These businesses have a social responsibility, and so do we. It may seem that our voices don’t make as big of a difference, but these businesses are built on our dollars and support.
Our spending and involvement can make a huge difference in how these organizations operate. Pepsi is just one recent example of this. Now is the time to hold the big players accountable without forgetting to do our part.
Fariha Jawed is an accounting and political science junior and can be reached [email protected]