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Macy’s Says Sorry

Macy's Mannequin

Give Ron Klein a break: it takes a few days to measure public outcry and draft an apology. Klein is the CEO of Macy’s, the gay community’s least favorite department store this month after putting the kabash on a window display celebrating gay pride. Klein is sorry about that. And he wants your forgiveness.

Pulling down the window display was, indeed, a mistake. But, you see, it wasn’t because Macy’s is anti-gay — it was because of a “breakdown in communication.” Which sounds plausible, until you remember it was a breakdown in communication that led to the events of 9/11. Not that we’re equivocating, of course.

When the controversy arose over the content of our display, the decision was made to maintain the display with no changes. We wanted to stand firm in our support of Boston Pride Week and the GLBT community – just as we always have.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in large organizations, a miscommunication occurred and the controversial mannequins were removed. Again, they were not removed because of pressure – but because of an internal breakdown in communication. Macy’s mistake – unquestionably.

Some can also call our decision not to return the mannequins to the window a mistake. Historically, our windows dedicated to causes and celebrations have always been executed through the use of text and props such as posters. We traditionally do not feature mannequins in these “community windows” because the introduction of merchandise has no role in our tributes.

I would ask the GLBT community to consider all that we did do – and have done – for Pride Week and the GLBT community.

Should Macy’s get a pass on this one? As In Newsweekly points out, Macy’s does have a decent history with the gays. Domestic partner health benefits in ’97. Corporate sponsor of the AIDS Action Committee. Sexual orientation added to its employee non-discrimination policies. Forget all that over a window display?

Klein’s full statement, after the jump.

#####

To the members of the GLBT Community:

My appreciation goes to In Newsweekly for giving me the opportunity to shed some light on a very troublesome week in Boston.

First, let me stress that Macy’s commitment to diversity and to the GLBT community is unwavering. Our history is rooted in inclusiveness, and it is a core principle of Macy’s.

I do recognize, however, that during Boston Pride Week, our actions did not appear to support that commitment. Every one of us in the Macy’s family sincerely regrets that what we had genuinely intended to be a celebration of Gay Pride Week became the center of a controversy.

For many years, our company has dedicated a window in our Downtown Crossing store in Boston to Pride Week, and we did so enthusiastically again this year.

When the controversy arose over the content of our display, the decision was made to maintain the display with no changes. We wanted to stand firm in our support of Boston Pride Week and the GLBT community – just as we always have.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in large organizations, a miscommunication occurred and the controversial mannequins were removed. Again, they were not removed because of pressure – but because of an internal breakdown in communication. Macy’s mistake – unquestionably.

Some can also call our decision not to return the mannequins to the window a mistake. Historically, our windows dedicated to causes and celebrations have always been executed through the use of text and props such as posters. We traditionally do not feature mannequins in these “community windows” because the introduction of merchandise has no role in our tributes.

I would ask the GLBT community to consider all that we did do – and have done – for Pride Week and the GLBT community. We did feature the Pride Week calendar of events in our window; we have done so for many years and are committed to doing so in the future. We hope the GLBT community will look past one element in a window display and recognize the exemplary record Macy’s has in support of diversity and the GLBT community. We are one of the most supportive companies in the country to our GLBT employees, including many members of senior management, as well as, vendors, and customers. Our annual support of Pride Week in Boston and in other cities across the country should clearly demonstrate our commitment.

Am I regretful that Macy’s made a mis-step in this instance? Yes. I am also regretful that some may question our commitment to the GLBT community based on this incident.

However, I am hopeful that Macy’s long track record of support for inclusion and diversity will be remembered by the GLBT community and will be a strong counterbalance now that the facts are known.

As a Macy’s employee, I am proud that our company supports and marches in Pride parades in Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Seattle, and New York City (where I have personally marched for several years). I am proud of Macy’s participation in AIDS walks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami and New York City. I am proud of Macy’s Passport fashion event, held in San Francisco and Los Angeles, that has raised $21 million for HIV/AIDs research since 1988. I am proud of Macy’s 86 ranking in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index – the second-highest ranking possible. And I’m proud of all the community partnerships, events, awards programs, marketing campaigns, recruiting efforts, and education and awareness programs undertaken by Macy’s with and for the GLBT community.

I can tell you with deepest sincerity that Macy’s commitment to diversity and to the GLBT community always will be an important part of our company and our community outreach.

CEO admits ‘Macy’s mistake’ [In Newsweekly]

By:           editor editor
On:           Jun 15, 2006
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 11 Comments
    • AaronLBC
      AaronLBC

      I’ll take that – may be a lame excuse but they acknowledged the community for its buying power and so they issued an apology. That is what we wanted. Congrats to all you who sent in the letters.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 12:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gregg
      Gregg

      An apology is good, but why did they remove the web addresses on the wall, along with the mannequins?…

      Jun 15, 2006 at 2:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WeHo Girl
      WeHo Girl

      Why don’t they do a new display to make up for it, like a “June weddings” window with same sex mannequins in summer wedding wear? Then I would give their statement more credence.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bambambam
      bambambam

      mmmm…no. Good idea about putting up another same sex window right away. That might help, maybe. But the more worthwhile thing to do would be to PRODUCE the mannequins out of the closet so that they can be displayed elsewhere as the symbols of the way Macy’s jumped so quickly to erase even the suggestion of gay people represented by a mannequin.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 3:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • William
      William

      Give them a “pass”? NO WAY. The fact remains that they caved to a RIGHT WING RELIGOUS group – NOT an internal breakdown in communications. Whats next that they will slip out of supporting? NO WAY – NO PASS. CANCEL you Macy’c Charge and NEVER SHOP there again UNTIL a NATIONAL apology is publish and make a MAJOR donation to a GLBT charity of their choosing.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 7:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeff in Boston
      Jeff in Boston

      I, for one, am hoping that Macy’s will respond in a more public fashion. The damage was done quite publicly, at least here in Boston, given that it was right before Pride and this “apology” is after all events are over. There is NO attention on the apology now. If Macy’s was smart about this, they would make a very public demonstration of their apology through some significant public display of support. It might be construed as spin but I have to think they can hire the right PR people to spin it right. But it also might demonstrate publicly where they stand on the issue for anyone that is still saying “good for Macy’s for taking the mannequins away”.

      As far as I’m concerned, I still expect more response and I hope the rest of the GLBTQ community and its allies also keep the pressure on.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 7:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg
      Greg

      As penance, I think they should be forced to feature a gay couple in one of their print ads! Heck, my husband and I will be happy to pose for free!

      Jun 15, 2006 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Queer Beacon
      Queer Beacon

      I’m kinda of sick of this routine…companies do something nice for the gays, then takes it back when the far right complains, then they apologize with the gays. Taking their fake apologies and excuses just reinforces this type of behavior. I’m still mad at Macy’s.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 8:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Liam
      Liam

      Sorry, but I don’t buy this apology.

      By Tuesday of Pride week, Macy*s was aware that this was brewing out there in the gay world. The simple solution would be to (a) issue an immediate press release stating that there was a miscommunication in that the mannequin display did not conform with the historic artistic layout of Macy*s’ Pride windows and was, therefore, changed to be more in line with what they’ve done in the past (and immediately become a major corporate sponsor of the pride parade and hand out plenty of coupons and promo items along the gay Pride parade route to show their loyalty to the community); or, (b) put up the same or another replacement mannequin display.

      I don’t know why this issue has resonated with me so much, maybe because I have been such a loyal Macy*s shopper… Honestly, though, I really wouldn’t think of shopping there (or, sadly, my favorite men’s store, Bloomingdales) at least till they make some overt gesture to the gay community in Boston FIRST, not NYC, not San Francisco.

      Jun 15, 2006 at 9:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Will
      Will

      Pffffffft

      Communication breakdown. Riiiiight.

      And I think its soooo interesting that it conviently took him over 10 days to adresss this well AFTER Boston Pride is over. In the immortal words of Charlie Browns Teacher: “Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.”

      Jun 16, 2006 at 5:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris Kingery
      Chris Kingery

      I was on the phone the minute I heard about this. I called and left messages (which were never returned) about how disappointed I was in their caving in to this right-wing group. I also received a canned email about “Macy’s Commitment to Diversity” which really seemd to dismiss my concerns about this incident. If Macy’s feels that these fringe groups are their new target audience, then let them have them. I will never shop there again.

      Jun 22, 2006 at 9:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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