After the Chick-fil-A controversy this summer, companies are on edge about the issue of same-sex marriage. Rather than oppose the issue, the Nordstrom brothers have taken a strong stance, supporting a Washington state "Freedom to Marry" referendum.
In an email sent to all employees, three Nordstrom executive brothers declared their support:
From: Nordstrom, Blake
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:03 AM
To: Leadership 2012
Subject: Freedom to Marry
October 11, 2012
To all employees:
We have long had a philosophical approach to our business to be inclusive about the way we serve customers as well as how we work to create a workplace where every employee is welcomed and respected. It's simply how we operate.
With respect to our gay and lesbian employees, Nordstrom was an early adopter of adding sexual orientation to our anti-discrimination policy, which means we guarantee the same legal rights and protections in our workplace to gay and lesbian employees just as we do for other employees regardless of sex, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy, physical, mental or sensory disability, and gender identity. This goes beyond the Federal government's protection in Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which still excludes sexual orientation. In 1998, we began offering life partner benefits to employees.
We feel the next step in this journey is to now support freedom to marry, also called marriage equality. There is a lot of awareness of this issue across the country and we've heard from many employees and customers. We gave this thoughtful consideration and felt the time was right to come out in support of this civil rights issue. It is our belief that our gay and lesbian employees are entitled to the same rights and protections marriage provides under the law as our other employees. We also believe supporting freedom to marry will help us create a more attractive and inclusive workplace for our current and prospective employees. Again – this decision is consistent with our long-time philosophy of inclusivity and equality for our customers and employees.
We recognize there are differing opinions about freedom to marry. We hope we've been clear about why we made this decision. To all of our employees – if you choose to talk about this with each other, please do so respectfully. We want you to be informed about our position so you can also respectfully answer any customer questions that come your way.
Blake, Pete, Erik
Blake Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom, Inc
Pete Nordstrom, President of Merchandising, Nordstrom
Erik Nordstrom, President of Stores, Nordstrom
According to GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), several companies have shown active support of same-sex marriage:
"Nordstrom joins many Washington-based companies who have come out in support for marriage equality, including REI, Expedia, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Nike. In Minnesota, General Mills and Thomson Reuters have come out agains the proposed marriage amendment that would limit the freedom to marry. Carlson Company Chairman, Marilyn Carlson Nelson has been actively campaigning against the amendment. Additionally, GOP Hedge Fund billionaire Paul Singer made a donation to advocate for marriage equality in Maine."
GLAAD also cites a Washington poll showing support for Referendum 74 at 55%, compared to 40% opposed. Although this isn't a huge spread, the data may indicate that Nordstrom and other supporting companies are on the popular side of the vote.
- What are the benefits and risks to Nordstrom, as a company, of showing its support for the referendum?
- In the email, how do the Nordstrom brothers connect their beliefs to the mission and values of the company?