HRC Blog

Reaching out to Business Leaders in North Carolina:  Fighting the Anti-Gay Amendment

This post comes from guest blogger, Scott Bishop

The effort to stop an anti-gay constitutional amendment in North Carolina has many facets.  We’ve got a grassroots campaign all across the state encouraging people to fill out postcards to be presented to state lawmakers.  Last week, we participated in a faith-based press conference inside the North Carolina state house while anti-gay demonstrators convened outside.  And, HRC is leading the effort to reach out to business and civic leaders across the state,  asking them to publicly or privately denounce the proposed amendment.

Since late March, we have been calling on several medium to large sized companies asking them to participate in our efforts.  As you might expect, businesses want you to make the business case for them to participate.

Our business case is as follows, amending the constitution in this way will be bad for business in North Carolina:

  • It creates a disadvantage to North Carolina businesses that are working to attract talented, qualified employees to work in the state.
  • It becomes a major decision point for current gay and lesbian employees in their decision to relocate to the state in support of the company for which they work – especially if the state they’re moving from legally recognizes their relationship.
  • It harms businesses by potentially denying them control over what benefits they offer their employees.
  • It harms our state economy by sending a message that our state doesn’t welcome the diverse workforce that twenty-first century employers want to compete in a global economy. Our targets for this message are LGBT Employee Resource Group Leads, Human Resources Executives and Chief Diversity Officers.  They more readily understand the business case and can typically help convey the message to other senior executives within the company. Ultimately, we want senior executives to understand that this is critical to their business operations.  Once we present our business case, we then “make the ask”.  Will these executives do one or more of the following:
  1. Call State legislators and tell them this is bad for business in North Carolina
  2. Write letter on company letterhead or a personal letter addressed to Senate and House leadership
  3. Sign onto a public letter opposing Senate Bill 106 and House Bill 777, the "anti-gay amendment"

We’ve seen public letters becoming more common as evidenced by the number of companies that signed the recent public letter in New York.  We use this letter as an example often pointing out to North Carolina companies that their peers are leading the way. And it’s working.  We are proud to include Corning Cable Systems LLC and Corning Inc. as partners in this effort.  What started as a cold call to the Chief Diversity Officer has resulted in Corning leading the way for other North Carolina companies. We are also encouraged by conversations we are having with Alcoa, AON Hewitt, Bank of America, Compass Group, Duke Energy, Ernst & Young and Wells Fargo. If you work for a company in North Carolina that you think would be interested in talking with us about our efforts, contact our Business and Civic Leader Outreach Lead, Scott Bishop at sbishop2@carolina.rr.com.

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