Philly’s emphasis on inclusion draws gathering that could pump $800,000 into economy

The B Lab group intends to bring 500 people to Philadelphia for a retreat in October. It scratched a plan to meet in North Carolina because of the bathroom law that discriminates against the transgender community. (image via <a href=bcorporation.net)" title="partner-with-peers-slide-6" width="640" height="360"/>

The B Lab group intends to bring 500 people to Philadelphia for a retreat in October. It scratched a plan to meet in North Carolina because of the bathroom law that discriminates against the transgender community. (image via bcorporation.net)

Philadelphia’s welcoming ways and reputation for inclusion could bring in an economic boost of $800,000 to the city in October.

B Lab, a nonprofit group based in Delaware County, was all set to host about 500 people in Durham, North Carolina, when that state passed its controversial “bathroom law” that allows discrimination against gay and transgender people.

Soon after the law passed in North Carolina this spring, B Lab decided to move its annual retreat to Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia has been a progressive city with welcoming policies. We felt that Philadelphia would provide a good place for us to have open and frank discussions about the role of business in helping to create a more inclusive economy,” said Vale Jokisch, who leads community engagement at B Lab.

The organization evaluates and certifies for-profit companies after evaluating their social and environmental policies. Companies pay an annual fee — on a sliding scale — to maintain their certification. The B Lab-branded designation is similar to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, said discrimination has an economic price.

“I don’t know of any really successful business that says, ‘We don’t want your business. We want your business, but we don’t want your business,'” he said.

Martin’s group is pushing for the Fairness Act to expand Pennsylvania’s workplace and housing protections. The bill would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Philadelphia has a good track record, Martin said, much better than some other Pennsylvania communities.

“In, for example, some parts of Montgomery County, Bucks County — or the other 70 percent of Pennsylvania that doesn’t have the protection, there [members of the LGBT community] face the same ability to be evicted or denied a public accommodation,” Martin said.

“Borders matter,” he said.

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