Coca-Cola shuns Olympic boycott
A demonstration on August 28th in Times Square was organised by Queer Nation, a New York non-profit group calling for Coca-Cola to withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and to “publish and publicise its LGBT employment policies” throughout their Russian-owned and operated websites and facilities.
Coke released a statement shortly after claiming that “a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement, rather than by sitting on the sidelines.” Furthermore, the company is “engaging with the IOC on this important matter.”
“As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.
As an Olympic sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host.”
Queer Nation's demands are that Coca-Cola must:
- Withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.
- Release a statement in English and Russian that condemns workplace discrimination, harassment, and bullying directed at customers and employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation
- Publish and publicize its LGBT employment policies on its Russian website in Russian and on physical bulletin boards and websites at all Coca-Cola owned and operated facilities.
- Conduct periodic company-wide sensitivity trainings about its LGBT employment policies worldwide.
- Institute a long-range policy to widely distribute its LGBT employment policies in human resources documentation and internal communications at all owned and operated facilities worldwide.
- Require that all Coca-Cola bottlers, distributors and vendors implement LGBT employment policies as a condition of their contract with The Coca-Cola Company.
Russian gay rights activists are calling for a boycott of the Olympics in response to the recently passed anti-gay propaganda law that imposes hefty fines for anyone promoting “non-traditional sexual relations.”
In the UK, Rupert Everett has joined Stephen Fry in urging David Cameron to orchestrate a boycott of the Games. But the Prime Minister said that while he shares the broadcaster's "deep concern" about gay rights in the country, he thinks anti-gay prejudice will be better tackled by Team GB attending the event, just like Coca-Cola.
And pressure is being brought on the BBC’s sports presenter Clare Balding, as a prominent member of the LGBT community.
The International Olympic Committee released a statement after the passage of the anti-propaganda law that it would embrace openly gay athletes travelling to Sochi in 2014. “The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games. The IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.”
See our report on fizzy soft drinks to see how Coca-Cola compares to its rivals across all our issues.
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