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April 20, 2015

Hoops, Nike, RFRA, Etc.

In the US, the NCAA basketball championship ran head first into the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The governor of Indiana sustained withering fire for this bit of legislation, seen as a license to discriminate against LGBT citizens.  There was heavy criticism from the business community, threats to leave the state, conventions cancelled - the governor backed down.

North Carolina, which is a peculiar combination of progressive and far-right, is on the cusp of the same problem.  A RFRA is working its way through the legislature, but this time the governor is ambivalent, having been read the riot act by IBM, one of the state's largest employers.

It's interesting to see how business has been the leader.  The only important measure is whether employees do their job and whether customers have money.  Why would a LGBT person apply for a job where they're not wanted?  Why would they shop at stores that disparage them?

In an analogous way, the business community in Nova Scotia supports efforts to make Nova Scotia more accessible.  Jim Cormier, Atlantic Director of the Retail Council of Canada made this remarkable statement in a submission to the Minister's Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation:
RCC members support efforts to create a more accessible province.  Not only do retailers believe that it is the right thing to do, they also know the importance of creating a welcoming customer and employee experience to success in what is an intensely competitive retail sector. Whether it be through their in-store or online offerings, retailers are continually evaluating their client service, the physical structure of their stores and their vicinity and even the public transportation systems that help move customers and employees.  Improving accessibility to retail business gives retailers better access to potential customers.  More customers usually means better sales and thus, RCC is supportive of reasonable measures that will improve accessibility across Nova Scotia.
Cormier goes on to urge careful implementation, but the clear support from retail business is refreshing, especially in the face of years of government inaction.  "Just do it," Cormier seems to say.  Is he a Nike rep?

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