Starbucks Pulls Back from Trans, Diversity Advocacy

Multiple media reports say corporate executives — including at Starbucks — are reducing their chatter and advocacy on “green and social initiatives” amid the Target and Bud Light stock-market disasters.

On June 13, NBC News reported that gay and transgender employees at Starbucks protested when the company executives told the outlets to reduce the in-store displays for transgenderism and gay status:

The group, Starbucks Workers United, is alleging that the company’s corporate management has been asking its workers in at least 21 states to take down Pride decorations over the last two weeks, a claim that the company refutes.

The union said that workers in Massachusetts, for instance, were being told that there weren’t enough “labor hours” for employees to spend decorating. It added that in Oklahoma, some were told “it was a safety concern to block windows with flags” and cited threats to Target employees over that company’s Pride displays as a reason for the safety concern.

Companies executives are trying to bump up the company’s stock value.

The company denied a policy of reducing support for the “Pride” ceremonies, but an employee union provided evidence of corporate curbs:

The post-Target, post-Bud Light caution by CEOs is nationwide, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

“Finance chiefs and other executives have significantly quieted down in public settings about their environmental and employee diversity efforts,” said a June 12 Wall Street Journal article that studied executives’ mention of related terms while touting their companies. The article continued:

Executives at U.S.-listed companies mentioned “environmental, social and governance,” “ESG,” “diversity, equity and inclusion,” “DEI” or “sustainability”on 575 earnings calls from April 1 to June 5, down 31% from the same period last year, according to data from financial-research platform AlphaSense. That is the largest such year-over-year decline and the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year drops, following a pickup in these discussions and corporate social efforts in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of my trans friends and colleagues, and we’ve all noticed less brands seeking partnerships and smaller budgets for Pride campaigns,” transgender activist Rose Montoya told the UK’s Guardian newspaper. “It’s disappointing.”

The left-wing outlet noted:

According to RILA Global Consulting, a company that studies consumers, brands, and trends, this time last year there were less than 400 social media posts calling for boycotts of Pride collections. In May 2023, that number jumped to 15,000.

On June 10, Montoya bared his cosmetically-modified breasts at a White House rally in Washington D.C.

Some of the companies that threw their brand into corporate advocacy are also being penalized for trying to escape.

At Target, the decision to withdraw some pro-transgender items from the stores prompted bomb threats from pro-transgender activists. But those threats are being portrayed by media outlets as coming from ordinary Americans.

For example, the Washington Post‘s reporter, Jaclyn Peiser, opened her article with a lede saying:

Target stores in at least five states were evacuated this weekend after receiving bomb threats. Though no explosives were discovered, the incidents tie into the backlash over the retail chain’s Pride Month merchandise.

The Post hid the evidence that the bomb threats came from pro-transgender groups, not from ordinary Americans  — in the ninth paragraph:

News outlets in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York received the same threatening email Saturday, according to South Burlington Police Chief Shawn Burke. The message, which accused Target of betraying the LGBTQ+ community, named a store in South Burlington, Vt., and ones in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and in Keene and West Lebanon, N.H.

A pro-ESG advocate lamented the new corporate caution in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

“The easiest thing to do is just to stay out of the conversation and emphasize other facets of business that are going to be perceived as less controversial and more core to the traditional metrics of the business,” said Jason Jay, senior lecturer of sustainability at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But many executives expect the current protests to die down and or to evade public scrutiny.

These corporate executives and staff are eager to push private political agendas during the work days, partly because their causes provide them with valuable status and satisfaction.

“It’s not the end of LGBT marketing. It’s the end of amateurism in LGBT marketing,” consultant Fabrice Houdart told the Wall Street Journal for a June 6 article. “I can see that my clients are more cautious … But none of them have said ‘I’m going to change my strategy or roll back what I’m doing.’”

The boycotts are likely to continue, partly because Americans are rallying each other via social media.

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