Will your company take a stand?

April 22, 2016

The response to recently passed legislation in North Carolina - widely viewed as the most sweeping anti-LGBT law in the country - has been loud and widespread. Musicians have cancelled concerts, organizations have pulled conferences and other events, and increasingly, companies are expressing their disapproval. Paypal and Deutsche have both cancelled plans to expand operations to North Carolina, citing the discriminatory law, and a number of other companies have pledged not to make investments in the state for as long as the law stands.

So, what does this recent news mean for companies like yours? Whether or not you have employees/operations in North Carolina (or Mississippi, which has also recently passed anti-gay legislation), your company should consider and address its position. Some things to think about:

- Does your company have an LGBT employee resource/advocacy group? If so, involve them in any communications you’re planning. They can advise on what sorts of concerns they’re hearing from their members and help to shape messaging in the most  sensitive way.

- Be sure you understand the laws and regulations in your state, as well as your company’s anti-discrimination policies. And then, check yourself - do your company’s policies align with your values? Of specific concern are rules about which bathroom transgender employees can use - it’s a question that all employers must consider and decide how to address. Again, this is where an employee resource group can be particularly helpful - advising on how employees are feeling and how best to address questions and concerns.

- No matter what your company’s position or policies, you must communicate with your people. At a time when issues of inclusion and discrimination are at the forefront of employees’ minds, companies must be forthcoming. This is your opportunity to reinforce your commitment to a diverse and inclusive work environment - reference your D&I policies, programs and resources. Invite open discussion and feedback. Ensure managers understand how to respond to and address issues in a sensitive and values-driven manner. And most importantly, ensure that the company’s words match its actions - once your company puts its stake in the ground in terms of its views and philosophies on diversity, make sure that all policies and business decisions align with those beliefs.

How has your company responded to the recent legislation passed in North Carolina and/or Mississippi?

Ann Melinger

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