Anheuser-Busch, the multinational conglomerate which owns Bud Light, was removed from a prominent LGBTQ organization’s equity index because the firm missed a “key moment” to support self-described transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light provoked controversy after the brand nodded toward the social media star, and executives have since made lackluster attempts to ease tensions with conservatives, such as downplaying the partnership and hiring veteran Republican lobbyists to win back conservatives.
The attempts nevertheless induced the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ political organization, to remove the firm’s perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index, which the group describes as the “national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.” Eric Bloem, senior director of programs and corporate advocacy at the Human Rights Campaign, informed executives at Anheuser-Busch in a letter first obtained by USA Today that the firm has 90 days to respond before the company’s score is docked.
“Anheuser-Busch had a key moment to really stand up and demonstrate the importance of their values of diversity, equity and inclusion and their response really fell short,” Bloem said. He contended that the company’s move to back away from Mulvaney in the face of opposition sends the message to employees, shareholders, and customers that Anheuser-Busch does not stand for diversity.
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth had indeed offered a statement in relation to the campaign, although the communication fell short of mentioning the nod to Mulvaney or transgenderism. “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” the executive said. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Jay Brown, senior vice president of programs, research, and training at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement to CNN on Friday that the organization was troubled by the pivot. “When we saw the company working with Dylan, that was a good sign. It was a sign of inclusion,” Brown commented. “What we were really disturbed by was the company’s reaction once the backlash started happening.”
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Anheuser-Busch has previously brandished the perfect Corporate Equality Index score in scuffles with proponents of the LGBTQ movement. The company cited the score two years ago after activists held a protest outside of the Stonewall Inn, widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ political movement, in which they poured beverages distributed by Anheuser-Busch into a nearby gutter because the firm contributed to the campaigns of lawmakers who sought to limit the spread of transgenderism among young people.
Market data now indicate that sales for Bud Light decreased nearly 24% in the week ending on May 6 relative to the same period last year, a slightly more severe outcome than the decline witnessed for the week ended April 29, while other Anheuser-Busch brands suffered to a lesser extent. The company seems to have alienated those on both ends of the political spectrum: Left-wing activists and owners of gay bars beyond the Human Rights Campaign threatened to launch additional boycotts after the firm backed away from Mulvaney.