Mixing business and politics

General Mills showed absolutely no skittishness today when it went public with a call to turn aside the same-sex marriage ban in November’s elections.

Ken Charles, General Mills’ vice president of global diversity and inclusion acknowledged on his blog today that the same-sex marriage ban is a business issue for the company:

I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy – and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it.

We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have … and we always will.

We’re proud of our workplace, and we’re proud to be a leader for diversity and inclusion in our community. For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture that welcomes and values the contributions of all.

We believe a diverse, inclusive culture produces a stronger, more engaged workforce – and strengthens innovation. Inclusive communities are more successful economically as well. We believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well.

Obviously, there are strongly held views on both sides. We acknowledge those views, including those on religious grounds. We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But we truly value diversity and inclusion – and that makes our choice clear.

Is there the possibility of blowback from supporters of the proposed ban who also eat cereal? The National Organization for Marriage certainly hopes so, judging by this press release this afternoon:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today blasted the General Mills Corporation for basically declaring a ‘war on marriage’ with its own customers. Speaking at a Gay Pride event today, CEO Ken Powell said General Mills opposes an effort to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Minnesota, where the corporation is headquartered.

“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does.”

A national survey conducted by the Alliance Defense Fund last year showed that 63% of people with children living in their home, ‘believe marriage should be defined ONLY as a union between one man and one woman.” Just thirty-five percent of people with children at home disagreed with the statement. Overall, the ADF survey found that 62% of adults believe marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.

“This will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time,” said Brown. “It’s ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage. It’s particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed.”

I’d like to hear from employees of General Mills. Does a political stance taken by your employer change things in your workplace?

  • Robert Moffitt

    From a PR perspective, this is already a winner for General Mills. Contrast this with Target’s donation to a political pac that supported Tom Emmer, and the firestorm that set off.

  • Jennie

    We don’t buy a lot of processed food. Breakfast cereal is one exception. In the past, I have not purchased General Mills products. I will now. Demonstrating that they refuse to be bullied by people who are going to end up on the wrong side of history is just about the only thing that could convince me to give my money to a giant corporation such as theirs.

    I wish all companies had the guts to expose their beliefs so we could all vote with our dollars and know just who and what we were supporting. I applaud General Mills for sticking their neck out in this way. As long as they continue to maintain this position, I will support them with some of my dollars.

  • http://www.farces.com/ Michael Fraase

    Bah. This is purely cosmetic posturing on General Mills’ part unless it also — officially and publicly — supports repeal of existing MN law banning same-sex marriage.

    At least Target’s support of Emmer’s PAC was straight-up honest. Wrong-headed, but honest.

  • BJ

    To the survey. I have not purchased anything from JC Penny in years, if ever. Until I heard they were being attacked because of a new spokes person and ads they are running.

    I’ve purchased 2 shirts and 3 pairs of pants. Over $200 in goods.

    That’s more than I have spent on cloths in the last year.

    I needed the cloths, for my new job, so it was going to get spent somewhere.

  • Tyler

    It’s astounding to me that people can’t understand what “freedom of religion” means.

  • Luka15

    I work for General Mills and I fully support this decision. It’s less about politics and more about standing up for your employees.

    And while I am a christian, straight, male, white, republican, I work with some of the most talented, thoughtful, and dedicated employees – and yes, some of them are gay. And they are great people and I’m blessed to call them my friends.

    From a business perspective, it makes absolute perfect sense for our company to take this action; it’s already hard enough to attract top talent from the best business schools because of the terrible climate here. If you add the fact that the state bans gay marriage, why would anyone move here?

    It makes business sense, and makes sense to support your employees – all of them. It’s the right thing to do.

  • Mike Feldman

    Bravo for General Mills!!! They are on the right side of this issue.

  • Richard

    All these political skirmishes are pointless and, more importantly, are mostly designed to divide the public because, as our founding fathers were well aware, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”.

    Marriage is the union of a man and a woman under God. That’s not my definition, that’s not the government’s definition, that’s God’s definition. Because it is a religious matter, the constitution prohibits the government from being in the marriage business. Marriage is something that only an ordained minister from a recognized church should be permitted to create.

    What the government is permitted to do is nothing more than create contractual agreements between parties, civil unions. On that basis, the government can not offer civil unions to any one group without also offering such to other groups. If two men want to form a civil union, they should be able to do so, just as they are able to create a business partnership.

    Creating a civil union should have nothing to do with sexual relations or gender. It should do nothing more than provide a legal path for hospital visitation when a contract member is hospitalized, shared tax reporting when property and personal assets are co-mingled, shared insurance benefits, and probate upon the death of a contract member. You don’t need a minister to create a marriage for any of that.

    The public needs to tell their politicians to quit promoting religion illegally through public policy and return the act of creating marriages to ministers where it belongs.