Earlier this week, Bell Canada became just the latest company to send a message to Sochi. Although its memo is a little more subtle than some others have been: you could easily miss the quick kiss between two men at the 23-second mark in the minute-long TV spot. It’s actually a pretty cool ad, as far as ads go, and worth a watch:
Unlike Bell’s video, this one from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion is anything but low-key. It’s also been seen millions of times around the world, even spurring reactions from athletes (not all of them positive, unfortunately). If you haven’t already seen the ad, well, I’ll let it speak for itself:
Companies outside Canada have taken a stand, too. AT&T has certainly been one of the most notable. Last week, it said this in a blog post:
The Olympic Games in Sochi also allow us to shine a light on a subject that’s important to all Americans: equality. As you may know, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community around the world is protesting a Russian anti-LGBT law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” To raise awareness of the issue, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has called on International Olympic Committee (IOC) sponsors to take action and stand up for LGBT equality.
AT&T is not an IOC sponsor, so we did not receive the HRC request. However, we are a long-standing sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), we support HRC’s principles and we stand against Russia’s anti-LGBT law.
AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society.
The other big-name company to come out in support of the LGBT community is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Google, which has for some time been an ally to the gay community. You probably saw the Google Doodle already, unless you somehow went a week without using Google—yeah, right.
Like Google, The Guardian also gave its logo an LGBT facelift, colouring the letter G with a rainbow gradient.
Other companies have spoken out against Russia’s anti-gay laws, as well, like American Apparel, Lush Cosmetics and yogurt maker Chobani. As for the official Olympic sponsors, however, the silence has been deafening for rights activists insisting they’re best positioned to make a statement. But McDonald’s hasn’t made a peep. Partial points go to Coca-Cola, which recently aired a Super Bowl commercial featuring a gay couple—but the company has yet to speak out directly or show support through its Olympic advertising.
As Chris MacDonald, our resident ethics blogger, wrote in a recent piece, companies do need to draw a line. Not every business decision is purely about business—although being on the right side of history isn’t a bad bet.