PG&E donates $250,000 to keep California same sex marriage legal ~ Brand Mix

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PG&E donates $250,000 to keep California same sex marriage legal

Same sex marriage is a deeply divisive issue. In California, latest polls show that 50% are for and 50% against. And most people are not on the fence. So why would a company take a high profile position and donate $250,000 to fight Proposition 8 (the one that seeks to limit marriages in the state between a man and a woman)?

Some possible whys:
1) Its most important stakeholders are local and state government and the government, especially in its San Francisco home base, is solidly against the Proposition
2) Another key stakeholder group, its employees, are much more in favor of same sex marriage (than the average Californian)
3) Relative to most companies, PG&E can discount customer opinion since customers have no choice in service provider
4) PG&E has a long history of supporting diversity--it has received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for the last five years
5) It wants to build a reputation as a forward-thinking, progressive company and put its (bankrupt) past behind it

Still and all, pissing off up to half your customers? Thoughts?

1) Slim majority of California voters would uphold gay marriage, poll finds: Los Angeles Times
2) PG&E sparks Prop. 8 opposition:
3) PG&E backs gay marriage rights: Sacbee


BIG said...

I'm all for differentiating your company but this is not the way to do it. These matters are personal and corporate should stay far, far away. This is an idiotic PR scheme.

I always yell at my customers if they get involved in anything that doesn't leverage their brand identity. Everything should tie back to it.

Martin Bishop said...

@big: I'm not quite as adamant about this question as you are. I think there's a role for Corporate Social Responsibility programs, even ones that don't leverage brand identity.

At the corporate brand level, the goal of such programs is to show that a company is a good citizen of the community and an attractive place to work. Programs like supporting the environment, letting employees have time off to work with disadvantaged kids make sense to me on that basis.

But I can't see the benefit of taking a high profile position on a controversial issue like this.

BTW, I also read yesterday that Doug Manchester, who owns the grand Hyatt in San Diego, has given over $100,000 to support Proposition 8 (i.e. to get same sex marriage banned). For those who applaud PG&E's stance, imagine yourself working at that Hyatt. Still OK with it?

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