John M. Becker

Time to Call Off the Barilla Boycott?

Filed By John M. Becker | November 19, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Barilla, Barilla pasta, boycott, Guido Barilla, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, pasta

barilla-pasta-boxes.jpgFamed Italian pasta maker Barilla got into hot water last year after its chairman, Guido Barilla, said in a radio interview that his company didn't like gays, and that anyone who had a problem with that should feel free to take their business elsewhere. He also slammed same-sex adoption for good measure.

An international firestorm ensued, with many LGBT people and allies boycotting the brand and competitors taking advantage of the scandal to profess their support for LGBT families. The company issued several apologies, but many people felt they were insincere and didn't go far enough.

But as the Washington Post reports, Barilla has made major changes in the aftermath of the scandal. Details after the break.

Reporter Sandhya Somashekhar writes that the pasta company's shift on LGBT issues has been "dramatic":

Barilla has made a dramatic turnaround in the space of one year, expanding health benefits for transgender workers and their families, contributing money to gay rights causes, and featuring a lesbian couple on a promotional Web site.

Barilla has journeyed from gay rights pariah to poster child... It is an about-face that highlights how companies, which typically shy away from controversy, are increasingly being forced to take sides in the cultural battle over gay rights and same-sex marriage -- and how decisively pro-gay forces have gained the upper hand.

The report notes that Barilla recently received a perfect 100 rating in the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC's Deena Fidas told the Post that it's both unusual and remarkable for a company like Barilla -- which didn't even participate in the index last year -- to go all-in for LGBT workplace inclusion.

barilla-pasta-equality-meme.jpg"Some people may certainly speculate about the motivations here," she said, "but at the end of the day it's irrefutable that at Barilla, you have LGBT-inclusive policies and practices... that were not there a year ago."

GLAAD spokesman Seth Adam and LGBT activist David Mixner, who served as a consultant for Barilla, also praised the company's evolution. And Barilla's chief diversity officer, Talita Erickson, said the company is "absolutely open" to including LGBT couples and families in future ads.

So what do you think -- are you encouraged by the pro-LGBT steps Barilla has taken? If you've been boycotting, is this enough to get you to stop, or are you waiting for further progress?

Sound off in the comments section.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.