Updated June 2, 2005 Compiled & written by Mike Fitzpatrick
Kraft Internal Memo Reaffirms"It's easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago." - Marc Firestone, Kraft Executive Vice-President
Gay Games Sponsorship
Northfield, IL - Kraft Foods has reiterated its support of the company's decision to sponsor the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. A May 23 internal memo from Marc Firestone, Executive Vice President, Corporate Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Kraft Foods Inc. was sent to all employees nationwide.
The memo obtained by Quest summarizes the sponsorship decision and the actions by the Religious Right to derail the food giant's support. Firestone wrote: "The true test of any commitment is how you respond when challenged. Kraft is experiencing this to a degree right now, as a result of our decision to be one of several contributors to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. The games will bring together thousands of athletes in a competition that will take place in our corporate hometown.
"In recent days, the company has received many e-mails, the majority of them generated through the America(n) Family Association, which objects to our sponsorship. We also have received calls and e-mails - not as many, but equally passionate -- thanking us for supporting this event. A member of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's team said, 'We applaud the businesses that are sponsors of the Gay Games, including Kraft Foods,' " Firestone wrote.
Firestone then acknowledged likely employee feedback on the issue. "You may have questions or might have had questions from friends and family about our contribution to this event. While Kraft certainly doesn't go looking for controversy, we have long been dedicated to support the concept and the reality of diversity. It's the right thing to do and it's good for our business and our work environment," the memo stated.
Firestone then reviewed Kraft's corporate policy on diversity. "Diversity makes us a stronger company and connects us with the diversity that exists among the consumers who buy our products. Diversity is more than a word many people like to say. At Kraft we truly respect all kinds of differences. And diversity is not a selective concept. By definition, it's nothing if not inclusive. We respect diversity of ethnicity, gender, experience, background, personal style and yes, sexual orientation and gender identity. Recognizing, respecting and valuing these differences helps us be a more successful business and a workplace where all employees can realize their full potential," Firestone wrote.
The memo then reviewed the history of Kraft's Rainbow Council on diversity. "For more than a decade, we have had employee councils that promote our awareness of diversity. The newest of our nine diversity councils is the Rainbow Council, which strives to provide a forum for support and networking among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees; raise awareness within Kraft and promote involvement in the community. Each council has an executive sponsor and I have been the Rainbow Council's sponsor since last year," Firestone continued.
Firestone noted that the corporate Gay Games sponsorship is only one of 1700 cash and in-kind contributions Kraft makes annually to various community organizations.
Firestone concluded the memo by alluding to the personal challenges employees might face in the ongoing controversy. "It can be difficult when we are criticized. It's easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago," Firestone wrote.
Kraft Foods is the largest producer of consumer foods in the United States. Kraft brands hold the number one share position in 21 of the 25 top categories in the U.S. and 21 of the top 25 country categories internationally. In addition to its dominance in the cheese marketplace, Kraft also owns brands such as Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House, Kool-Aid, Tombstone pizzas, Boca vegetarian burgers, Post cereals and Jell-O.