Barilla Hopes Its New Diversity Board Will Make Everyone Forget Exec’s Anti-Gay Comments

Italian pasta producer Barilla is still busy smoothing things over after its president made waves in September by saying the company would never feature families with gay people in its ads. It’s whipped a brand new “diversity and inclusion board” so it can figure out how to not tick its customers off with anti-gay comments.

The company says the board will involve experts and advocates who can help the company “establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture,” reports CNNMoney. This will include David Mixner, a well-known gay rights advocate.

The company also has a new chief diversity officer, the first person to hold such a post at the company, and it’s pledged to participate in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies based on how friendly their policies are to LGBT employees.

Back in September, Barilla President Guido Barilla said during a radio interview that he’d never feature same-sex couples in his pasta commercials because he’d rather focus on a “traditional family.” Those comments drew fire from customers and LGBT groups, who called for a boycott on its pasta products.

Since then Barilla (the person) has apologized many times, saying he was just all about women being in families.

“As a socially responsible company that serves and respects diverse consumers, we know we have to expand our commitment,” a Barilla spokesman said in a statement. “Our goal is to do better by becoming a global corporate citizen and leader in diversity and inclusion, internally and externally.”

Barilla launches diversity board after exec’s anti-gay remarks [CNNMoney]

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  1. AMysteriousStranger says:

    Those guys make some limp noodles!

  2. mpdpop says:

    It drives me crazy when companies believe that the solution to major goofs like this is simply a re-branding initiative.

  3. dan2112 says:

    I don’t know how old Guido Barilla is, but I have an idea that his sentiments echo a lot of people’s from his generation and older… We, as a society (even in Europe) are just now getting used to the idea of the definition of “traditional family” changing.. While the idea that a gay or lesbian couple can represent a traditional family is gaining ground when it comes to acceptance, there are still a lot of people (not necessarily ultra-religeous, mind you) who still find the idea counter to their own ideas/values.

    My mom and dad were, though Catholic (as I am), not fanatical followers of the Church’s teachings. That said, they were older and less accepting of the gay and lesbian “lifestyle”…. They had homosexual friends/coworkers and did not hold that against them in a descriminatory way, but still, the idea that two men or two women could have a family was not something they could readily accept.

    You can equate this to the idea of mixed race couples… My mom did not like the idea of a black/white marriage.. But not because she was racist.. In fact, she was one of the most unracist people I ever knew. Her concern rested soley with the way a child from that kind of relationship would be accepted (or not).. Historically, a child from a mixed race couple would be ostracized by common society and faced a tough road. Luckily, that is no longer the case in most regions… But still, it was a belief she was raised with, part of an older society that did not see that things that were “different” could be accepted.

    So basically, Guido’s beliefs, be they societal, or religeous, should not be accepted, by any stretch of the imagination, but those of us who see things differently need to not be so quick to rally to boycotts.. Rather we would be accepting of the fact that some people need time and education to change their ideas or beliefs. Sorry this was so long winded, but it’s very much a soapbox issue for me.

    • smirkette says:

      Sorry, I disagree. He made a public statement as the chief executive of a company. While he has the right to speech and his own beliefs, the public has every right to let him and his company know that they strongly disagree through withdrawing their business. Why the heck would I want to help a bigot profit? I would no sooner knowingly patronize a store run by racist or a sexist–both types of discrimination that just a generation or two ago were considered the norm. Just because bigotry was once accepted by society doesn’t mean he gets a pass today.

      • MarthaGaill says:

        Yep. The only way this apology/rebranding will work for me is if the oust his ass. And without a golden parachute.

        • dan2112 says:

          I can see your point, and that of smirkette, but what, beyond the bottom line of the company is affected by simply ousting him. Do we, who feel we are more enlightened about archaic beliefs, not want to use an opportunity to teach someone, and not just teach them a lesson? All forcing his ouster would do is cement his feelings against the idea. Yes, his stance has modified (in public, because of the outcry) but do we care whether or not he has really taken this issue to heart? Or does it matter?

          • MarthaGaill says:

            So you want to send him to sensitivity training? I’m not sure I’m following your point.

            My point is, the man is hateful and he will not have my money. The only way I would buy that brand again, is if they moved on and got rid of him. There’s likely no changing his beliefs and even if he were to publicly apologize and say he’s seen the light, it would probably just be lip service so people would buy his pasta again.

            • dan2112 says:

              How, exactly is he hateful? Has he stated that all gay people must burn at the stake or that they are less than human? No.. There is no evidence that he hates gays and lesbians, he simply disagrees with the “lifestyle.” I disagree with people of opposite political opinions than my own, but I certainly don’t hate them. The words “hate” and “bigot” get thrown around too loosly, I fear. Those who scream for tollerance are often very hateful themselves, toward people who don’t agree with them.

              To you and I, the idea of same-sex marriage/family is a good thing. However, it IS against every major religeon in the world (ask a devote Muslim how they feel about it) and as such, many people have a belief that it is wrong. That doesn’t (for the most part) mean they hate gays and lesbians. I just means they don’t agree with it, based on ancient biblical teachings.

              There will always be a percentage of people who believe religeon over science, and until it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is genetic and not a choice, that’s the way it’s going to be.

              And yes, if he would be willing, ol’ Guido should go through some sensitivitiy training..

    • CommonC3nts says:

      LOL, I just realized the guys name is actually “Guido”.

  4. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    i will still be saving the boxes of barilla pasta i had bought right before he made the offensive comments and donating them to the food drive at my office in a couple of weeks. his original comment was offensive to me as a bisexual and his retraction ticked me off as a woman (“In the interview I just wanted to underline the centrality of the woman’s role in the family. “)
    this incident will probably damage their brand for a long time to come, regardless of how much backsliding they do.

  5. whoscryinnow says:

    Sadly, since they are the best of the mainstream pasta brands in my opinion I will still buy it. I still eat Chick Fil A too, even though their leadership consists of hateful bigots. The chicken is just too good for me to foresake for the purpose of making a political statement.

  6. CommonC3nts says:

    I dont get why anyone got offended from his comments.
    People are religious and major christian religions are against being gay. You cant fault people for not wanting to promote using sins. You cant ask people to ignore their religion in decisions that do not negatively effect anyone like not showing someone in a commercial.
    To be made at this exec is like getting mad at the pope for being anti-gay.
    Now saying that, the company has no right to discriminate, but it is not discrimination to not include someone in your ad. That is simply the companies choice to who they want to market to.
    As long as their ads are not anti-gay, which not showing gay people is not anti-gay, then no one should care.

    BTW, I am anti-religion, but one still has to acknowlege that there are religious people in the world.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      If he didn’t want his ridiculous beliefs aired, he should have kept them to himself. He didn’t. Now he’s going to pay the price.

    • franklydear says:

      He’s completely out of touch with societal views and civil rights. The customers have responded to that.

  7. C0Y0TY says:

    The problem with boycotting a company for one of its executives’ beliefs is that you are also punishing all the company’s employees who do no hold those beliefs.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      By extension of that argument, you can also say that by not purchasing sweatshop-made items you’re punishing the poor children and old women who are kept prisoner there and forced to work there. The point is to drive the worst villains out of the market, then the (comparatively) better competitors will absorb the business and, we hope, the workers.