Lowe’s CEO: HB2 fight doesn’t change company’s ‘core values’ of diversity, inclusion

A day after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, Mooresville-based Lowe’s was among the first major corporations to come out against the measure. And in a call with the Observer Wednesday, the retailer’s CEO reaffirmed that stance as lawsuits around the controversial measure proceed.

“We were one of the first companies to come out and share our position on diversity and inclusion,” CEO Robert Niblock said. “It’s our hope ... as you think about what’s happened with the lawsuits, that there will be a resolution to that in the future. But it doesn’t change our position of having diversity and inclusion as being core values.”

Niblock added that the law hasn’t affected recruiting efforts at its Mooresville headquarters or at its North Carolina stores.

“There’s nothing we’ve seen that has been a discernible impact coming from the media attention around HB2,” he said.

HB2 sets a statewide class of nondiscrimination that does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. It also requires people in government facilities to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. It was signed into law March 23.

On March 24, Lowe’s provided the following reaction to the measure:

“Lowe’s recognizes and values the rich diversity of our employees, the customers we serve and the communities where we do business each day. We welcome all people to our stores. Lowe’s opposes any measure in any state that would encourage or allow discrimination.”

Other major employers in the Charlotte area – including American Airlines, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Red Ventures – similarly came out against the bill.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department sent state leaders a letter saying that HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.

The following week, McCrory and legislative leaders filed their own lawsuits contesting the order. And Attorney General Loretta Lynch filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to put House Bill 2 on hold until the matter is resolved in court.

Lowe’s, the second-biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., also made headlines for reporting better-than-expected financial results for the first quarter.

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