by Linda Nelson, CMP
The Chinese reportedly have a curse, “May you live in interesting times”. Being English and living in North Carolina watching the news is a minefield. The Brexit vote , the presidential race, and the news about HB2 in North Carolina. I certainly feel like I am living in way too many interesting times.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill2 in March 2016. The law was passed quickly, in response to an ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council. The bill states that persons must use the bathroom that correlates with the gender listed on their birth certificate. The bill only affects public institutions, to my knowledge no business has come out in support of the bathroom provision in HB2.
Most people oppose HB2 with over 50% wanting to see it repealed, even Republicans are opposed to it. Every major city in North Carolina has come out against it, five lawsuits were filed within two days of it being passed, the police have stated they will not enforce it and the Attorney General, refuses to defend it.
How will HB2 actually be implemented and enforced? The whole bathroom bill seems completely preposterous. Many political pundits believe it will never be, nor was it ever intended to be actually implemented.
When asked about HB2 I thought about what advice I would give a fellow meeting planner. North Carolina has a lot to offer big cities, beautiful beaches and my beloved mountains in Asheville.
Is North Carolina a great place to hold a meeting? Most definitely.
Does taking your business elsewhere, hurt the state of NC? Most definitely.
Will taking your business elsewhere help see this law struck down? If you are the NBA moving your AllStar Game , publicly and vocally stating that HB2 is the reason for making the move. That has an undeniable impact. It affects the economy in Charlotte and the entire state.
Many entertainers like Bruce Springsteen , Maroon 5, Nick Jonas have cancelled concerts in North Carolina, this has an irrefutable impact on individuals and businesses all over the state. Chris Sgro, of the North Carolina General Assembly estimated the state had lost $500million in lost revenues as of May 2016.
As a meeting planner the most important thing you can do is know your audience. Listen to your client, and consider who is attending the meetings, will they feel uncomfortable, be safe, or feel like they are breaking the law?
Not all performers are choosing to skip North Carolina, some feel as the Lumineers do that they can highlight the issues by playing in NC and contributing to the conversation. Cyndi Lauper plans to stand with North Carolina’s gay population, she will perform, as a gesture of solidarity. “I think that people will need us there,” she said. “Wherever there’s a shutout, the other people need you.”
If you choose to host an event in NC, you should address the issue upfront with clients and participants. Companies f rom American Airlines to Lowe’s have made statements condemning HB2. You should get in front of the issue, address it from the beginning. You may also consider showing support at the event for the LGBT community and or North Carolina’s transgender community. There are many groups that support the transgender community in NC.
If you decide to host an event here in NC we hope you find the kind, welcoming people that North Carolina is famous for. If not I hope you consider NC when these interesting times are far behind us.
Linda Nelson, CMP is the Founder and CEO of To PLAN Ahead LLC and has more than 20 years of experience in event planning conferences and special events. She began her career in the meeting planning industry in England with the Plymouth Visitor and Convention Bureau where she worked as a Tourist and Conference Destination Manager. Since moving to the U.S. 25 years ago, she has continued her meeting planning career and in 1997 earned the designation as a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). Linda feels very fortunate to have worked with clients such as Hewlett Packard, Agilent, Intuit, Applied Materials and many more. Previously, she worked as a Meeting Planner for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and since forming To Plan Ahead, EPRI has continued to be a loyal client. Linda travels extensively, both nationally and internationally, and has excellent knowledge of the benefits that her international clientele provides. As a member of the Founding Board for the Northeastern Chapter of MPI (Meeting Professionals International), she served as the Vice President of Communications. In 2008, she was awarded Professional Excellence in the Meeting Industry by the chapter. She is a member of SPIN.
Fun Tidbit: Did you know Linda won first prize for her stamp collection at the age of 10? She also loves the theatre and has performed in numerous plays over the years - her favorite one being The Crucible.
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