As a quick refresher, North Carolina’s HB2 law, passed last spring, dictated that transgender people must use the restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in public facilities, and that municipalities may not pass legislation protecting its citizens from discrimination beyond that already described at the state level. The result has been a huge departure of convention, sporting and entertainment events, as well as potential major business expansion, from the state.
The discussion continues to drag on and on, and now the proponents of HB2 are further emboldened by President Donald Trump’s administration’s recent roll back of federal protections for transgender students. (wapo.st/2mnK9P2).
I now continue this discussion by adding the two different business perspectives: from a senior executive in his mid-60s speaking to a group of local business leaders, and from a recent college graduate.
From the senior executive: On Feb. 23, I attended the quarterly Triangle Business Journal Power Breakfast with other Triangle area business leaders. The speaker was Whit Shaw, CEO of American City Business Journals, which distributes 43 different business publications across major U.S. cities. To kick off the Q&A portion of the session, Triangle Business Journal Editor Sougata Mukherjee asked Shaw for his perspective on HB2.
“I can flat out tell you that it has changed the conversation about North Carolina,” he said, recounting conversations with executives across the country. “It has distracted us from the conversations that we should be having, namely, how are we going to keep growing? How are we going to provide good jobs for the people in this state? How are we going to get things done?” (Quote from TBJ article about the event, link to the full TBJ story, bit.ly/2mkVNKb.)
Shaw did comment that the North Carolina economy is clearly losing significant amounts of revenue, including opportunities that we did not even know we were in the running for. He stated that we are continually spending time and money on this issue, and thus losing sight of the real conversations we need to have that will determine our state’s future.
From a recent college graduate: My 24-year old very straight, but definitely not narrow, cousin Brandon just graduated with his Sociology degree from North Carolina State University while working full time. He enjoys discussing current events with me.
On the same day I attended the TBJ Power Breakfast, Brandon and I had this text conversation:
BRANDON: “How horrible is this strip of protection by the Trump administration. So transgender students have no protection over the bathroom they can use now?”
ME: “It is now a big mess and is in limbo since it will now be state-by-state and by school district, plus there are still open court cases.”
BRANDON: “So pretty much all transgender people are going to migrate to the liberal states where they feel protected like New York, Colorado and California?”
ME: “That certainly could happen, especially with the talented ones who have the resources to move.”
BRANDON: “Yeah, it’s horrible”
Yes, an older senior executive gets it. Yes, a recent college graduate gets it. HB2 is a huge negative impact on our economy in terms revenue and workforce talent. Too bad our politicians don’t get it.
info: Stan Kimer, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, is a Raleigh, N.C.-based business consultant who provides corporate and organizational training on a wide range of diversity topics including transgender diversity.