Anheuser-Busch Loses Top LGBTQ+ Rating Over Bud Light Response

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Last year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, top marks for LGBTQ+ equality. But because of how the company handled the backlash of a sponsored post by Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman, he’s now off the list.

The organization informed Anheuser-Busch of its decision in a May letter seen by CNN, after previously writing to the company in April criticizing its response. USA Today first reported on the decision.

Bud Light’s sponsorship of an April Fool’s Day Instagram post by Mulvaney sparked a firestorm of anti-trans backlash and calls for a boycott. The company first responded with a straightforward explanation of its relationship with social media influencers like Mulvaney. But he later released a vague statement from the CEO that offered no support for Mulvaney or the trans community, and the company ended up angering just about everyone in the process. Sales of Bud Light plummeted over the following weeks.

Kid Rock Turns Bud Light Cases In Response To Transgender Activist’s Post


– Source: CNN Business

“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. Our job is to bring people together over a beer,” AB CEO Brendan Whitworth said in an April 14 statement titled “Our Responsibility to America.” Shortly after the statement was released, the company said two vice presidents of marketing had taken time off.

Bud Light has been embroiled in controversy since April.

“When we saw the company working with Dylan, it was a good sign. It was a sign of inclusion,” Jay Brown, senior vice president of programs, research and training at the University, told CNN. HRC and signer of both letters “What really bothered us was the company’s reaction once the backlash started to happen.”

The statement and management’s decisions “raise considerable concern for the LGBTQ+ community,” Brown wrote in the April letter, which was also seen by CNN.

“At this time, it is absolutely essential for Anheuser-Busch to stand in solidarity with Dylan and the trans community,” he wrote at the time. “However, in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ and transphobic criticism, Anheuser-Busch’s actions demonstrate a profound lack of courage to stand up for its values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

AB’s evasive response comes at a time when trans rights are under fire. More than 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year through April 3, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, including those that restrict access to gender-affirming care for trans youth. . Typically, transgender people are more than four times more likely to be victims of violent crime than cisgender people, according to a UCLA Law School study.

Brown asked AB to make a public statement in support of Mulvaney and the trans community, provide transgender inclusion training to its executives, and reach out to LGBTQ+ employees to hear their concerns. He also asked to meet with AB’s management team.

“We are happy to engage in dialogue,” Brown told CNN. “And if it’s not those three things, to figure out what might make the most sense.”

About two weeks after the first letter, Brown sent another advising the company of the suspension of the 100% rating that had landed him on the list, citing the lack of response to those earlier requests. The foundation could reinstate the rating if the company addresses those concerns, Brown noted. AB has approximately three months to respond.

“We remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations to drive economic prosperity in a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” a spokesperson said. Anheuser-Busch in response to a request for comment for this story. .

The foundation uses a number of metrics to rate companies for its Corporate Equality Index, such as workplace protections and inclusive benefits. Last year, 842 companies scored 100% and can say they are a “Best Workplace for LGBTQ+ Equality.” HRC, which champions equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community, has maintained and updated the index for approximately two decades. Last year, the foundation removed the Fox Corporation from its list.

For the brewer, what started as a limited sponsorship of a popular social media figure (Mulvaney only posted a few Bud Light partner posts before the backlash) turned into a PR crisis with impact. on sales.

BeerBoard, which tracks sales data, previously told CNN that the 3,000 locations it tracks poured 6% less Bud Light than competitors, including Miller Lite and Coors Light, from April 2-15. , a reversal from previous weeks. Additionally, Bud Light sales fell 17% in the week ending April 15 compared to the same week in 2022, according to an analysis of NIQ data compiled by Bump Williams Consulting that was provided to Wall Street. Log.

Sales boycotts can sometimes be offset by buycotts, calls to buy a product in response to a boycott. But Bud Light did not win support for its initial deal with Mulvaney due to his subsequent backlash.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), the owner of Anheuser-Busch, have fallen about 11% since March 31.

In a recent analyst call discussing the company’s first quarter financial results, which ended before April 1, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said it was too early. to tell the impact of the controversy. During the discussion, he mentioned that Bud Light is just one of the brands in the company’s extensive portfolio, which hasn’t changed its outlook for the full year.

– CNN’s Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.


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