Monday, February 27, 2006

WILL THE REAL CORPORATE AMERICA PLEASE STAND UP?

For some bizarre reason, some naive individuals have decided to give Corporate America a free pass on the culture war. Admittedly, there was a time when I myself thought that this particular constituency was open minded when it came to the issue of gay rights--including gay marriage and gay adoption.

But after talking to a number of friends, I have come to the conclusion that Corporate America is as much to blame for the culture war and the rising hatred against gays and lesbians as the religious reactionaries have been. Less obvious, but just as guilty.

I know, I know. There are are several open-minded corporations out there which offer benefits to gay partners and gay families, but I now realize that this is little more than window dressing.
At a first glance it appears as if many corporations have adopted a tolerant, even accepting attitude towards Gays and Lesbians. More than 2,162 American employers have implemented nondiscrimination policies in the area of sexual orientation; approximately 4,463 offer health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. Some of the most gay-friendly corporations include: American Express, Walt Disney, Microsoft, Lucent Technologies, Xerox, IBM, Hewlet-Packard, Apple Computers, AMR , and Citigroup. Even Wal Mart has given lip service to the idea pf equal opportunity for gays and lesbians--the opportune words being "lip service. " Despite pressure from right wing religious groups, advertising in gay media increased by an astounding 28 percent in 2005.
Good news, right?
Well...In some ways yes and in some ways no.
There are still corporations which openly and unashamedly discriminate against gays and lesbians. There are still states in which it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation. And to make the situation even more complicated, Corporate America--even the most "enlightened of corporations-- appear less than consistent when it comes to gays and lesbians.
I would be a lot more convinced as to the sincerity of corporate America if it were to stop playing both ends against the middle.
When they want gay talent in the work place, when they want to sell products and services to the gay cmmunity, they talk one way. But when they want to grab the entire economic pie and leave a few measly crumbs for the lower and middle classes they send in the Christian Right to carry the proverbial water for them.
We've seen it before.
With a pivotal election on the horizon a Republican State Legislature wastes little time it proposes an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution. And what does corporate America do? After creating a false impression tolerance, and acceptance they let the Christian Right to the dirty work which they are too cowardly or gutless to do for themselves. They jump for joy, oblivious to the fact that the very benefits they offer might well be challenged in court under the State constitutions that the Christian Right is promoting. The hypocrisy here is nothing less than mind boggling. On the one hand corporations tell gays and lesbians that they want and need them as workers and customers. But then, on the other hand, they undermine the marital rights and economic benefits which might make gays and lesbians better citizens, workers, and consumers.
And for what?
Profit. Or to be blunt, thirty pieces of silver.
I'm glad corporate America is offering partnership benefits to gay and lesbian employees. I'm glad that they want me for a customer and that some of them are willing to advertise in gay media. I'm thrilled by the idea that there are corporations out there who seek the talent and expertise of gay and lesbian citizens.
Now if Corporate America would only put little things like equality and civil liberties over the bottom line. But then again, who said Corporate America was in any way to loyal to anything except a quick buck?

2 comments:

Zelle Brennan said...

Great post, Daniel and so well stated. Thats exactly what they do, talk out of both sides of their mouths, instead of 'constituencies' they pander to 'markets'. They are truly loyal to the dollar over all else, makes one wonder if people actually work at these places, how they are so able to disconnect.

Rory Shock said...

good one on the money and mouth not meeting ... frickin' A