By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
DEARBORN – One gnat is a mild annoyance, but a cloud of them can make even the sunniest trail seem temporarily like a gauntlet. Unfortunately for Ford Motor Company, the gnats have come thickly during a particularly dark and rocky time in the company’s history.
Just as the anti-gay American Family Association and their cohorts have renewed a boycott against the struggling automaker, shareholder Dr. Robert Hurley of Alton, Ill., submitted a resolution that would require the company to exclude sexual orientation from its employment non-discrimination policy.
After losing a bid with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to keep the resolution off the ballot, Ford began mailing proxy ballots including it to shareholders on April 7. Those ballots and the votes cast at the company’s May 11 shareholder’s meeting will decide the anti-discrimination policy’s fate.
The non-discrimination policy is among the factors that have earned Ford a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s yearly Corporate Equality Index.
LGBT marketing expert Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., predicted that the anti-gay resolution will fail.
“Business is business, and most shareholders put aside their personal opinions or discomfort and are not likely to support resolutions that support extreme points of view,” he said, and cited a recent overwhelming vote by Kraft shareholders to continue the company’s support of the Gay Games.
“Companies that have fair-minded practices and outreach in the GLBT community are simply practicing good business,” he said.
“This stockholders vote is just another one of these distracting and bothersome attempts to disparage the company,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of Triangle Foundation, which works to combat anti-LGBT hate crimes. “Obviously, we are watching very carefully all these different levels of attack that are being mounted against Ford by the AFA and others.”
“After they lose this vote, maybe they’ll finally tire of this game and go on to some other harassment,” he added. “It’s clear to everyone in corporate America that treating all of your employees fairly and equally is good business.”
Speak OUT: Encourage your friends, family members, and co-workers who own Ford Motor Company stock to vote “No” on Resolution 9, which would drop sexual orientation from Ford’s anti-discrimination policy.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press