UPDATE: I wrote back to Whirlpool expressing my concern that they weren’t even taking a position on the legislation or doing anything else to help us get this thing vetoed. Here is their reply:
“Whirlpool Corporation opposes this legislation, which runs counter to our core values of diversity and inclusion. We are reaching out to the Governor’s office and the Chamber to inform them of our position.” — Jill Saletta, director of external communications for Whirlpool Corporation.
[This is the earlier post, before Whirlpool amended their statement to add their objection to the bill and that they were reaching out to the governor.]
Whirlpool has just sent me the following statement about their role in helping the religious right repeal municipal gay rights, and all city-wide civil rights laws, in Tennessee:
Whirlpool Corporation’s future depends on its ability to attract and retain the best people at all levels of the Company. To do that, we strive to create a working environment that values diversity and protects the right of each employee to fair and equitable treatment. It is our policy that employees and applicants for employment will be treated on the basis of equality without regard to sex, age, race, disability, religion, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, and national origin. Whirlpool Corporation did not lobby for SB632/HB600. While Whirlpool is a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, we do not support all positions proposed by the Chamber. – Jill Saletta, director of external communications for Whirlpool Corporation.
It’s not clear from the statement whether Whirlpool has any position on the legislation at all, or whether they’ve agreed to sign on to the letter calling on the Governor to veto the legislation (I know they’ve been asked).
If Whirlpool is not wiling to fix the situation that their own man on the ground, Richard Walters, created via his role on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, then it’s not entirely clearly how supportive of diversity they really are. They seem far more interested in not offending bigots than in doing the right thing and fixing the very crisis they created. Their man Walters was informed of this situation on April 29. He was told, point blank, that the Chamber of Commerce, that he sits on the board of, was lobbying to repeal gay and trans rights legislation in Nashville. What did Whirlpool’s Walters do to fix this problem after he was put on notice about it a good month ago?
We’re going to need a lot more than a statement that doesn’t even bother mentioning Whirlpool’s position on the legislation before anyone forgives that company for the imminent repeal of civil rights in Tennessee.
And finally, as for Whirlpool not supporting all positions of the Chamber, that’s cute. Would Whirlpool remain a member of the Chamber if it tried to repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Somehow I have a feeling that if the minority being oppressed weren’t the gays or trans Whirlpool would be doing a lot more than issuing a statement that doesn’t even bother mentioning its position on the hateful bill, let alone whether it plans to do anything to help get a veto.
Tell Whirlpool, via their Facebook page and via Twitter (@WhirlpoolCorp) that they’d better fix this now.