Board Meeting

Why Is PepsiCo Sitting Down With Ex-Gays?


We get it: Big corporations need to massage the agendas of any number of special interest groups to keep everyone happy. It’s a balancing act; it’s politics. But does that explain why the board of directors of PepsiCo — makers of such fine products as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Frito-Lay, Quaker, and Gatorade — welcomed Greg Quinlan, the “ex-gay” activist who’s proven to twist words, outright lie, and misrepresent accepted truths about sexuality?

In Dallas on Wednesday the board welcomed Quinlan, who was representing the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX). (Quinlan has, at one time or another, spoken for Ohio’s Pro-Family Network and the New Jersey Family Policy Counsel. He’s also a favorite target of Wayne Besen.) How come? So Quinlan could educate Pepsi on how their support for those crazy homosexuals is costing them consumers! He wants Pepsi’s board to approve Resolution 6 to provide a report to shareholders explaining standards for contributing to non-profits, what benefits PepsiCo receives, and how it monitors that ROI.

Donating to HRC, supporting PFLAG, and targeting gay consumers is, supposedly, turning off other more conservative consumers.

Technically, Quinlan — a former gay who found god — is right: Since January, the American Family Association has boycotted the company and its products. And, oh dear, from the looks of PepsiCo’s stock price ever since, it appears to be working!

If only that were an indicator of AFA’s effect. A greater litmus test for how well the boycott is going, however, is PepsiCo’s willingness to hear them out. Hopefully it’s just business savvy: Pretend to be listening to the opposition so they won’t grow more upset, while continuing to do the right thing and support the gay community — and attract the gay dollar.

UPDATE: We scored the audio of Quinlan’s speech, which makes his argument more clear: Pepsi supports groups like PFLAG, which hate people like Quinlan, and so Pepsi should stop supporting PFLAG, which Quinlan “personally considers a hate group.” Haha. Responds PepsiCo: Basically, shut up Quinlan. But more accurately: The company supports underserved communities and diversity in business, and shareholders can already see details on which groups Pepsi supports and why.

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