The nation’s largest advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights has suspended its benchmark equality and inclusion rating for Anheuser-Busch, citing the beer company’s handling of the hate-filled and transphobic backlash of its collaboration with transgender influencers Dylan Mulvaney last month.
The Human Rights Campaign announced the maker of Bud Light is suspending the company’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index score — a tool that measures corporate policies, practices and benefits related to the well-being of gay employees, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer – on May 9, according to a letter shared with The Associated Press on Friday.
The suspension of Anheuser-Busch’s CEI mark means the company “no longer has the right to use the ‘Best Places to Work’ distinction,” the HRC letter said. Before the suspension, Anheuser-Busch had a CEI score of 100, the group’s highest rating.
“What we see playing out here is an example of companies making a decision to have and build inclusive marketing, which is good – but a business has to stand by those decisions,” said Eric Bloem, the senior HRC’s director of corporate programs and advocacy. , told The Associated Press. “The Anheuser-Busch (case) is a textbook example of what not to do.”
On April 1, as part of a March promotional contest for the beer brand, Mulvaney posted a Instagram video of himself cracking a Bud Light.
A cascade of criticism and hate surrounding the video soon erupted, especially among conservative figures – with Kid Rock posting a video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light and others called for a boycott of the brand. In the following weeks, the sales of the beer brand also fell a little and two marketing executives at Anheuser-Busch took a leave of absence.
In an April 14 statement, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said the company “never intends to be part of a discussion that divides people. We’re in the business of bringing people together beer.”
Anheuser-Busch’s actions and Whitworth’s statement did not signal clear support for Mulvaney, however, or directly address the transphobic rhetoric that continued during the backlash — fueling LGBTQ+ concerns that community and activists. Meaningful solidarity is especially important at a time when many anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law across the country, Bloem added.
In an April 26 letter, also seen by the AP, HRC called on Anheuser-Busch to issue a public statement expressing support for Mulvaney as well as transgender customers, shareholders and employees. The group also asked the company to hold a “meaningful conversation” with LGBTQ+ employees about their concerns and recommended actions for leadership and conduct a training on transgender inclusion in the workplace for those executive.
HRC said it had not received a response from Anheuser-Busch, the advocacy group said, prompting the May 9 letter notifying the company of the suspension of the CEI mark. To date, Bloem said on Friday, HRC still has not heard from the company – but the organization’s goal is to work with the company and “discuss strategies to demonstrate and reaffirm support for LGBTQ+ that community.”
Anheuser-Busch said Friday that the company remains “committed to the programs and partnerships we’ve built over decades with organizations to drive economic prosperity in many communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.” community.” The maker of Bud Light, which is part of the Belgium-based brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBevdid not mention HCR letters.
Mulvaney took several weeks before publicly commenting on the backlash — but posted a video on his Instagram page in late April thanking supporters, but did not mention Bud Light by name in the post.
ONE NOW first reported the suspension of Anheuser-Busch’s CEI mark on Thursday.