IBM lambasted North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for signing into law a multi-part bill that prohibits any municipality from passing LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and bans transgender students from using public facilities that correlate with their identity.
The company released a statement Thursday criticizing the new law for “reducing” anti-discrimination protections across the state:
IBM is opposed to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, or age. Our company has had an explicit policy of non-discrimination based on gender identity or expression since 2002.
We are disappointed by the passage of HB2 in the North Carolina General Assembly because this measure will reduce, rather than expand, the scope of anti-discrimination protection in the state. IBM will continue to follow its global non-discrimination policies in the workplace, and believes that an inclusive and welcoming environment is the best way to attract talented individuals to our company.
IBM has a large presence in North Carolina, including a 72,000 square-foot campus in Raleigh-Durham’s Research Park Triangle. The company has sunk a lot of money into the state — $300 million in research and development since 2011 — which has added $3.4 billion to the states economy every year, Fortune magazine reported.
There’s no indication whether IBM has plans to take action beyond its statement, but the microchip maker isn’t the only tech company lobbying against state non-discrimination bills.
PayPal, Google, Apple, and Salesforce have all denounced North Carolina’s anti-LGBT bill. Salesforce, the San Francisco-based cloud computing company, has gone one step further. CEO Marc Benioff, who has a track record of taking strong policy stances, threatened to cancel the company’s upcoming conference in Georgia if the state’s governor didn’t veto a religious liberty bill that would allow some discrimination against same sex couples.
Tech companies have become increasingly outspoken on diversity and civil rights issues, even as they struggle to promote inclusivity among their employees. Apple CEO Tim Cook has spearheaded that effort in LGBT rights as the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company and throwing the company’s support behind the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity nationwide.