The Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has downgraded Anheuser-Busch's equality score for the company's handling of the backlash from a Bud Light promotion last month that featured transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney as a new spokesperson, USA Today reported on Monday.
A wave of conservative backlash harshly criticized the company for working with Mulvaney, with calls for a boycott appearing to be the reason for a drop in the sales of Bud Light, Business Insider reported.
HRC's senior vice president of programs, research, and training Jay Brown said the group decided to revoke Anheuser-Busch's equality score after several attempts over the last month to contact the company's executive team went unanswered.
The group said it had asked the company to release a statement backing Mulvaney and transgender customers, shareholders, and employees.
Anheuser-Busch had previously held a perfect score and was designated a "Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality," which meant the company took "concrete steps to establish and implement comprehensive policies, benefits, and practices that ensure greater equity for LGBTQ+ workers and their families," according to HRC's website.
"We don't make this decision lightly," Brown said. He emphasized that demonstrating backing for the LGBTQ+ community is particularly important in the current atmosphere, with numerous anti-LGBTQ bills under discussion in legislatures across the nation.
"This is about supporting the current and future workforce, as well as shareholders and consumers," he said. "We've seen that when businesses center inclusion in both policy and practice, they come out on top, regardless of baseless, hateful attacks."
An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson responded to the downgrading by telling Business Insider that the company remains "committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations to drive economic prosperity across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community."
Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch's CEO of the North America branch, Brendan Whitworth, released a statement that "we never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer."
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