Money & Business

Design Group Pushes Back on North Carolina's HB2

By / Apr 7, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In the days leading up to a large-scale North Carolina furniture tradeshow, the American Society of Interior Designers is pressuring the state to repeal a new law that prevents local municipalities from expanding discrimination protections for LGBT people.

We think any type of discriminatory legislation that exists is counter-productive to good business in organizations.

The American Society of Interior Designers has joined other associations and businesses in condemning North Carolina’s newly enacted HB2 legislation, which blocks local governments from passing antidiscrimination laws to protect the LGBT population.

“We think any type of discriminatory legislation that exists is counterproductive to good business in organizations,” ASID CEO Randy Fiser said. “We think that diversity is important both for innovation and outcomes, and design and business.”

The measure became law at a key time for ASID’s members—less than a month before the semiannual High Point Market, the largest furniture tradeshow worldwide and North Carolina’s largest event by economic impact. And that gives ASID a unique way to pressure the state to rescind the legislation.

While ASID will participate in the market scheduled for April 16-20, it will publicly denounce the legislation onsite and encourage members in attendance to speak out against it, ask hard questions of other participating businesses, and consider carefully who they do business with while there.

ASID will also support its members who decide to boycott the April event. And should North Carolina fail to repeal the law soon, ASID will consider boycotting the October event altogether.

Because North Carolina is a hub of design and manufacturing business and High Point is a high-profile event in the space, “we felt we needed to take a stand—that this law needs to be overturned, and that North Carolina was doing something that was going to be counter to the future business of our industry,” Fiser said.

In addition, ASID offers a platform called “One Voice,” which includes a texting service and will keep members up to date on this issue and other advocacy efforts.

HB2 was passed on March 23 in response to a Charlotte ordinance that would have expanded antidiscrimination laws to cover places of “public accommodation.” The local measure was meant to protect LGBT people from discrimination and to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of the gender they identify as.

North Carolina is not alone in this controversy. Last year, Indiana passed, then modified a bill that would have permitted business owners to refuse service to customers based on religious beliefs. More recently, Georgia and Mississippi passed similar measures. In Georgia, the governor vetoed the legislation; in Mississippi, the governor signed the bill earlier this week.

Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. More »

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