IMC Condemns North Carolina HB 2 Law

CEO Bob Maricich “appalled” and calls for its repeal
April 5, 2016David Gill

IMClogo3x2HIGH POINT, N.C.-International Market Centers, owner of High Point Market, is calling for a repeal of North Carolina’s controversial Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (also known as House Bill 2 or HB 2).

IMC CEO Bob Maricich responded to calls for boycotts of the upcoming High Point Market saying that anger is misplaced and would hurt the businesses that exhibit there.

In effect, the law bars transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. Striking down an antidiscrimination ordnance passed by the city of Charlotte, it also prevents North Carolina municipalities from passing their own antidiscrimination policies.

“I am appalled by the law and bewildered as to why elected state officials would take an enormous step backwards,” Maricich said in a statement. “Many of our tenants and buyers have expressed outrage in response to the legislation and prominent businesses in North Carolina, including Pepsi, American Airlines, Facebook, Dow Chemical, Paypal, Lowe’s Home Improvement, software maker Red Hat and the largest corporate employer in our state, Bank of America, who join 90 other national companies, including IMC, seeking to repeal the law.”

Maricich also pointed out that the bill runs counter to IMC’s core values. “At IMC, a guiding principle of our commitment to excellence as a company is to treat all people with dignity and to act with integrity,” he said. “Inclusiveness is a core value of our organization. We celebrate diversity and view it as a strength and unequivocally denounce any form of discrimination.”

Maricich added that “the object of scorn should not be the High Point Market. Market has been a place where our industry looks for creativity, leadership, camaraderie and commerce—and has for more than 100 years. Over 70 percent of the exhibitors are small businesses that depend on market for their annual revenues—most of whom are not based in North Carolina—and we certainly do not believe they should be the victim of punitive action. Any anger directed toward market is simply misplaced.”

Meanwhile, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) supports a boycott. HB 2 and similar laws “are unacceptable and counterproductive for business and the profession at large,” according to an ASID statement. Pointing out that many businesses and consumers are calling for a boycott of High Point Market, the statement added, “Members of the design community have not only joined these calls, but also are forgoing participation at High Point Market—at a cost to their businesses. ASID commends their actions in the name of pressuring the governor and legislature to rescind HB 2.”

Although not going as far as to call for the law’s repeal, a statement from the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) reinforced the organization’s commitment to inclusion of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. “We encourage all members of the industry to stand together in unity for the promotion of equality and diversity,” stated Diane Nicolson, president of IFDA. “We are stronger together than when divided, let us unite people from all ends of the industry and celebrate each other’s uniqueness.”

David GillDavid Gill | Senior Editor

David Gill covers home textiles, small electrics housewares, personal-care products, cleaning products, mattresses, consumer electronics and major appliances. He also reports on retailers and writes about the business and financial side of both vendors and retailers. He has more than 30 years of experience in business journalism, and has worked for other publications and websites that cover consumer products from both the manufacturer and retailer sides. His outside interests include sports (he is a big fan of the New York teams and of British soccer), cooking, movies and theater. He occasionally enjoys a good cigar as well.


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