Barilla Pasta Announces Major ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Initiative in Response to Anti-Gay Controversy

Barilla, the international pasta maker who came under fire in September after its chairman Guido Barilla told a radio host that gay people could find another brand if they didn't like the fact that the company would never make an advertisement with gay people in it, today announced a new Diversity & Inclusion Board, a Global Diversity Officer, and participation in the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

BarillaThe new initiatives are a result of meetings with civil and human rights leaders in Italy and the United States, it says.

Said Chief Executive Officer Claudio Colzani in a press release:

“Diversity, inclusion and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values and code of conduct. They are reflected in our policies and the benefits we provide to all employees, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. At the same time, we are committed to promoting diversity further because we firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”

The steps include:

– A newly-established Diversity & Inclusion Board, comprising external experts and advocates who will help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues. Individuals who have accepted positions on the Board to date include, David Mixner, a prominent global leader in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and Alex Zanardi, a Paralympic gold medalist.

– Appointment of the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Talita Erickson, a Brazilian-born attorney who for the past year has served as General Counsel to Barilla America.

– Participation in the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) created by the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign to measure and rate large companies on their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) employees.

4_barillaSaid Mixner: “I am encouraged by Barilla’s commitment to seek outside guidance and advice on these crucial issues and pleased to be a part of it. I am also impressed with the willingness of the Chairman and company to listen and learn from LGBT community leaders and work towards improving diversity, inclusion and equality.”

The company adds:

Barilla will also launch a global online contest in 2014 designed to engage people on diversity, inclusion and equality. Entrants will be asked to create short videos that represent the multifaceted nature of pasta, which will be submitted to the web community to be liked, shared and voted. The videos will be then judged by an expert panel and the winners will receive awards.

Comments

  1. says

    The saying that comes to my mind is “a day late and a dollar short”, I can buy good pasta that doesn’t have this company’s baggage, the ceo or president that said gays can by another brand and I will do just that. I am not naive enough to believe there is any change in the management attitude of this or any company that has show it’s true colors to the glbt community and that includes Target.

  2. woody says

    I’m not buying this nor their pasta until Barilla starts running commercials that include gay families. That’s what he said they’d never do, so inclusive advertising would be the proof.

  3. C.J. says

    Already returned all our Barilla and found a local store that makes fresh pasta that is worlds better! Supporting a local shop and taking business away from biggots….

    And I spoke to a manager at a major supermarket chain to see if they noticed less Barilla being purchased and he said that it is BEYOND obvious that people are not buying it.

  4. rroberts says

    It looks like CEO Claudio Colzani and others have really scrambled to repair their image, but I believe Guido should be the one apologizing and Guido should be making any announcements about Barilla policy changes.

    However, like others have already said, “too late”.

  5. Jude says

    I think this is nice but only on the surface. It’s a clear PR move and an attempt to polish their image. However, it doesn’t ring true unless they fire Guido Barilla.

    In other words, I’m not buying what they are doing and I won’t even consider buying their products until Guido is gone and has absolutely nothing to do with the company.

  6. dennis says

    if they/he learn from this process and their company’s policies are transformed over a period of time , progress has been made
    time to move on and educate the next ?

  7. Gaiboi says

    I am still somewhat confused as to what the face of this company hoped to gain (or since then lose) by making such a bigoted statement.

    Was it in the hope of garnering more anti-gay customers? Even that wouldn’t be fruitful, as there’s no way the anti-gay bigots could make up the loss the company had to see coming of its customers.

  8. jomicur says

    I agree with all the “too little, too late” comments. But I can’t help noting that all the gay Uncle Toms (Uncle Bruces?) who keep bleating that it does no good for us–that in fact it actually hurts us in some mysterious way–have been proved wrong still again. Barilla is clearly feeling the heat, scrambling to try and fix the economic/PR disaster. We need to keep the pressure on them, and on all the corporate sponsors of the Sochi Olympics.

  9. anthony says

    What will the OMM out there feed their children ?

    Oh dear…..they may have to learn how to cook and prepare their own meals—-

    ……….and stay off the Internet.

  10. Kieran says

    “Diversity, inclusion and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values and code of conduct.”

    If this obvious corporate marketing BS was true, none of this would be neccessary.

  11. Randy says

    We really should support Barilla. When homophobic companies make a change, we should encourage that. If we don’t, then the homophobes win because companies will see no benefit to changing.

    It’s better that wisdom comes late than not at all.

  12. TampaZeke says

    Interesting that in all of that babble, NOTHING was said about rectifying the issue that brought all of this to the forefront in the first place; the refusal to make a gay inclusive ad. That should be a required part of their rehabilitation and the ad shouldn’t be confined to LOGO. It should play on network television during prime-time. And then we should expect the same from other companies that we’ve never demanded, or even asked, equal representation from. Where are the inclusive Coca-Cola ads? What about Kraft; Nike; Microsoft; Apple; AT&T and all of the AMERICAN companies that never place gay people/couples in their ads?

  13. says

    Are we all saying that it is impossible to take back any transgressions ? Can no person or company ever turn around and right their wrongs ? Our goal is to punish for life … Their is zero redemption ? As For Barella , They need to begin a large, gay family, ad program and make a negative into a positive

  14. Will says

    Bottom line for me: no matter what damage control they do (and this is really only about them losing $$$), I won’t ever buy that pasta again. There’s an identical other-brand box next to Barilla on the shelf of the supermarket, and I don’t want one cent of my money going into that idiot’s bank account. There’s nothing they can do to get me back as a customer, and I was a regular buyer in the past.

  15. Neil says

    So they’ve come up with a transparently self-centered scheme to rehabilitate their brand and generate some free advertising. Thanks for the press release…

  16. Critifur says

    The problem really isn’t the company itself, it is Guido Barilla. He is anti-gay, he can’t take back what he said, and I do not want to pay for his lifestyle.

  17. Scudder says

    No matter what they do, they’ll never get my business again. Why not support a company that had the bravery to stand in support of the gay community from the start?

  18. MaryM says

    I reckon Barilla will pay HRC enough money to have HRC give them a 100 score on HRC’s utterly useless Corporate index.

    Isn’t inclusion on that list almost entirely dependent on making a financial contribution to HRC?

  19. George Deeming says

    The only way they can salvage anything is to get out and get what they can. The company is doomed. Those remarks from their idiot President/CEO or whoever the negligent handlers were who let this moron loose to drive the company off of a cliff with his macho Italian attitude … well —they caused the problem – Barilla is dead as a product, so change the name or sell out while you still can.

  20. Dave says

    They’re gonna create a committee and have a contest. How sweet.

    Well, you can stuff it Guido! Think, manicotti. And be careful what you wish for Guido. My friends, family and I will not be buying your products again.

  21. Scott Lechert says

    Odd – I suddenly started receiving emails from Barilla touting their products. They must have bought an email list from some gay organization or site in an attempt to reach out to the gay community. I immediately unsubscribed.

  22. Sam says

    I definitely understand the posts about still never buying Barilla, but what was the point of a boycott if not to get the company to change it’s position? Sometimes you have to accept that you have won.

  23. Rich says

    It always astounds me when I read the comments on this site how bitter and angry we are as a community sometimes. There are lots of people who are our allies now who did not used to be our allies. I’d include the parents, siblings and friends of many members of our community in that group. Sometimes a swift blow to the head from reality — in the form of the backlash from a stupid bigoted comment from a CEO or in the form of a child’s coming out as gay — is what it takes for people to come around to the right side of the issue. So let’s not be so vindictive, judgmental and angry every time a person (or a company) makes an effort to do the right thing after he/she/it has done the wrong thing first. Let’s welcome their good efforts rather than condemn them, and give others who might join us a reason to feel comfortable in doing so.

  24. Sam says

    RE: the comment above about paying HRC for a good score, that’s total BS. My employer is actually very, very good on LGBT issus, but last year took a couple hits on the score. The company had to work very hard over the past year to change policies, etc. to return to the previous score of 100. It was earned, not paid for. I am not always the biggest fan of HRC, but to say they sell their scores is dishonest.

  25. reggie777 says

    Not fooled by this company’s smoke and mirrors. And yes, if it means a lifetime ban, so be it. People can change. And there is room for forgiveness. None of these two statements apply to Barilla. Maybe if they dumped Guido, after he publicly apologized, truly apologized, I’d consider relenting. But since he is part of the company family, I don’t expect that to happen. Until then, Guido, you should continue to suffer the consequences of your words.

  26. reggie777 says

    Not fooled by this company’s smoke and mirrors. And yes, if it means a lifetime ban, so be it. People can change. And there is room for forgiveness. None of these two statements apply to Barilla. Maybe if they dumped Guido, after he publicly apologized, truly apologized, I’d consider relenting. But since he is part of the company family, I don’t expect that to happen. Until then, Guido, you should continue to suffer the consequences of your words.

  27. walter says

    in his heart barilla knows gays are destroying the world but in his pocketbook he really likes them . sorry there are many other brands and they don’t have to be forced to embrace equality

  28. ratbastard says

    Pasta is pasta. Get the stuff that’s on sale, the store brand, etc. It must be a tough business the Barilla family are in.

    And yes, of course, this is a BS PR stunt corporations, institutions, and individuals pull all the time. As for diversity training, forcing employees ]or students] to attend these trainings in reality creates a lot of simmering dislike and contempt. The only people who really benefit are those who make a living out of ‘diversity’ training and advocacy, and ‘advocates’ for this or that who get to pad their resume.

  29. Joe in Ct says

    It’s a step worth encouraging. Time will tell and I hope the outreach efforts pay off, but I found a pasta that I actually like better, that’s made in Italy, unlike Barilla. So, while I no longer feel like spitting on their boxes at the store, my wallet and I have definitely moved on…

  30. Troy says

    Talk. Is. Cheap! And my partner and our son have started making the most EXCELLENT homemade pasta. Nothing but a damn MINI-series of incredibly beautiful commercials showing an LGBT family making dinner together with that middle of the road pasta is ever going to convince me to buy that brand again. But I’ll be watching.

  31. Rob says

    Well our clout must be working and we need to keep it going. When big companies and powerful rich people attack us, they have ways of making it stick. To protect us from similar attacks in the future we have to be sure that the name Barilla becomes synonymous with self-implosion over gay issues- not just how they got a three-month slump in sales.

    Sorry, Guido. (And I don’t mean that as a slur, since it really is your name. But I am reminded that Italian Americans have been the victims of prejudice here in the US for many years.) Your PR flacks have an uphill climb here.

  32. Dixichuk says

    Seriously doubt their sales tanked. 90% of the world doesn’t give a flip about gay people or their issues. But when a company that has done wrong tries to do right regardless of its motivation, and gets slammed for it, it might just increase that percentage above. Worked for Chick-fil-a.

  33. chasmader says

    They can hire all the psycho-babble diversity officers they want to, and it will do no good so long as the owner is calling the shots.

    I’ll never buy their pasta again.

  34. m says

    who cares. they make pasta. like you can’t get that anywhere else? like its all you eat. Guido you are just trying to save your ass. and everyone knows it.

  35. rob says

    It’s amazing how quick money can make people pretend change. The core belief will never change. It’s already been said and damage has hopefully been done.

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