Coca-Cola’s homophobic leadership is destroying trust with consumers | Molly Wood

Kotick has led Activision Blizzard for nearly 15 years. He has recently been publicly criticised for his anti-transgender policies. Now, C-SPAN and others are calling for him to step down.

As the political climates of the United States continue to deteriorate in 2018, consumer companies continue to take a financial beating. Now Coca-Cola, long viewed as a good corporate citizen, is being accused of being part of the problem.

Activision Blizzard has been publicly criticised for its anti-transgender policy and chief executive Bobby Kotick has recently been publicly criticized for his anti-transgender policies by both Democrat and Republican party officials.

This is the crux of a press release issued by public-advocacy group Business for Social Responsibility on Friday. The release calls for Coca-Cola to remove Kotick from its board of directors. C-SPAN joined in the release, encouraging readers to urge Coca-Cola to remove Kotick.

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A spokesperson for Coca-Cola told Bloomberg: “Coca-Cola takes the well-being of our employees, communities and planet very seriously. Coca-Cola takes these issues very seriously. And we are vigilant in ensuring that we have an inclusive and respectful corporate culture.”

The spokesperson declined to answer more questions about Coca-Cola’s board of directors, despite the fact that, given the levels of consumer mistrust currently surrounding Coca-Cola, it’s likely that no one will be suggesting that Coca-Cola remove Kotick as CEO.

As part of what has been called a “Disaster Relief Effort,” Coca-Cola announced that they would contribute US$15m to Hurricane Florence relief efforts in November. This was one of only two times that Coca-Cola issued a multi-million dollar donation to a single relief effort following the 2018 hurricane season.

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As one writer noted, this was “part of the reason (Coca-Cola’s) attempts to position itself as a responsible corporate citizen have stalled and become less than a token gesture.”

Coca-Cola also advertised in the 2018 ad and game for Nike, a company that has been known to oppose LGBTQ rights.

Since 2010, Coca-Cola has donated $600,000 to a variety of transgender rights organisations, including the Trevor Project, which offers support and resources to LGBTQ youth.

As Tracy Smart, who studies toxic masculinity and gender at Brown University, told the Guardian last month: “It [federal hate crimes legislation] is a great first step in the right direction. But you have to look at the language, the law, and policies to ensure that it is preventing criminalization and not just being used as a tool of racialized violence against transgender people.”

Many other corporations, including Walmart, Target, Wells Fargo, and a variety of other big corporations, have recently been targeted for boycotts and pressure to change their practices for LGBT rights. The C-SPAN press release also includes a list of “anonymous” critics of Kotick. C-SPAN declined to provide the Observer with the name of the critics.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of objectivity, including or excluding Bobby Kotick’s policies is nothing more than a PR stunt. There is no data to suggest that boycotting Coca-Cola due to their diversity policies would actually put people’s health and wellbeing at risk. Because Coca-Cola contributes money to organisations that provide funding to support transgender, gender-variant, and disabled people, it doesn’t seem that boycotting Coca-Cola over transgenderism would have much of an impact.

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