Archive for August, 2011

Corporate America’s Response to Homophobia Abroad

Coke Zero Live on the WaterfrontWhen a company facilitates public expressions of homophobia – even inadvertently – what response is it obligated to take?

That question has confronted the Coca-Cola Company since late April, when a concert it co-sponsored in Jamaica became an outlet for homophobic rantings by Sizzla, one of Jamaica’s most prominent reggae musicians. Sizzla’s history of anti-gay lyrics is well-documented and well-known; his performance in Montego Bay, in keeping with that tradition, included the performance of a song that calls for the murder of gay people.

Coca-Cola, of course, has a commendable score of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index over many years, and no one has charged Coke with discriminating against its LGBT employees in Jamaica or elsewhere. But that, of course, isn’t the issue.

What happened in Jamaica was, on one level, a stunning display of professional error. In the largest sense, the local Coca-Cola bottling company that signed up to sponsor the waterfront event clearly failed to do any due diligence on Sizzla. Nor apparently did the company include, in its sponsorship agreement, any clause outlining its expectations regarding the performances it underwrote. Heads may or may not roll over these basic professional failures, but surely the waterfront fiasco could have been avoided had the company put in place even the most rudimentary professional safeguards against these mistakes. Continue reading ‘Corporate America’s Response to Homophobia Abroad’

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