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Multi-trillion dollar investors tell North Carolina: ditch ‘hate-filled’ HB2

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has consistently defended HB2 since signing it into law earlier this year
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has consistently defended HB2 since signing it into law earlier this year

A collection of asset management companies, who collectively manage investments totaling $2.1 trillion, have written an open letter demanding that North Carolina repeal HB2.

The state’s House Bill 2 (HB2), dubbed by some as the ‘bathroom bill’, was passed earlier this year. The controversial legislation prohibits transgender people using public bathroom facilities in fitting with their gender identity.

In the letter, re-printed here the signatories say: ‘As long-term investors in companies doing business in North Carolina, we are concerned that HB2 is making it difficult for our portfolio companies to provide the safe, open, and inclusive environment necessary for a successful workplace.

‘Nearly 93 percent of the Fortune 500 have adopted inclusive non-discrimination policies protecting their employees on the basis of sexual orientation and 75 percent of the Fortune 500 also include gender identity/expression in order to better position themselves to attract and retain the best talent.

‘Research has also shown that LGBT-supportive policies lead to positive business outcomes, lower staff turnover, and increased job satisfaction.

‘As investors in companies that employ thousands of people across the state, we want North Carolina’s business community to continue to thrive and be a leader in our country. Legislation such as HB2 undermines these opportunities and may constrain the ability to invest throughout the state.’

It goes on to state: ‘Quite simply, HB2 is bad for business and investors do not support legislation that limits discrimination protections and hampers the ability of our companies to offer open and productive workplaces and communities.’

The letter was coordinated by Trillium Asset Management, and is signed by its CEO, Matthew Patsy. Other signatories include representatives of New York City Comptroller, Community Capital Management, Morgan Stanley, United Church Funds, Amalgamated Bank, Aviva Investments, Northstar Asset Management and around 50 others. This also includes non-profit research group Croatian Institute, and LGBT business network organization, Out Leadership.

‘As long-term investors, we can’t sit idly by as HB2 undermines fundamental human rights at our expense’

In a statement, Todd Sears, Founder and Principal of Out Leadership said, ‘States and countries can either have modern economies driven by knowledge industries like technology, financial services, and pharmaceuticals, or they can discriminate against LGBT people. North Carolina can’t have it both ways.’

Another of the letter’s signatories, New York City Comptroller’s Scott M. Stringer, said in the same press statement, ‘As long-term investors, we can’t sit idly by as HB2 undermines fundamental human rights at our expense.

‘For the last 25 years, New York City’s pension funds have pushed more than 100 companies to enact non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ individuals and ensure they attract, retain, and promote the best and the brightest.

‘These policies are essential if we want companies – and our economy – to succeed, and we can’t let a hate-filled law get in the way.’

The investors are just the latest in a long list of businesses and organizations to condemn HB2. The NCAA and ACC have both pulled championship games from the state, while musicians such as Bruce Springsteen have cancelled concerts.

Conferences and trade fairs have been pulled, while PayPal has cancelled a planned expansion in the state.

The joint letter was welcomed by Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, who told Washington Post: ‘It’s an additional voice in the existing chorus. In terms of the economic impact on the state, all of the things we’ve already been talking about will be amplified by this kind of statement.’

HB2 repeal is being discussed as a possibility

HB2 was partly prompted by the passing of legislation in the city of Charlotte granting certain LGBT protections and allowing trans people to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity.

Ten days ago, Governor Pat McCrory, who is facing re-election in November, suggested that HB2 might be repealed but only if the legislation in Charlotte was scrapped and the majority of lawmakers in the state backed a repeal.

Last Monday, the Mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, said that the state should act to repeal HB2, regardless of what Charlotte chooses to do. Speaking ahead of a council meeting, she said, ‘We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community.’

 

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