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?