Big brands take a stand: Walmart and Coca-Cola stand up for equality

By Nesh Pillay | Reporter

April 3, 2015 | 4 min read

Walmart and Coca-Cola have publically voiced their disapproval for legislation that could lead to discrimination in Arkansas and Georgia respectively.

After a religious freedom act was passed in Indiana last week, other similar bills have emerged, which would allow businesses to turn customers away due to religious beliefs. It is thought that this would lead to discrimination of the LGBT community.

"Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve," said Walmart executive chief, Doug McMillan.

The statement came as a surprise to some, as having originated in a small Arkansas town, Walmart has usually remained either neutral or conservative in controversial conversations.

Coca-Cola spoke up soon after, condemning a discriminatory act in Georgia.

“Coca-Cola does not support any legislation that discriminates, in our home state of Georgia or anywhere else. Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity,” it read. “We believe policies that would allow a business to refuse service to an individual based upon discrimination of any kind, does not only violate our Company's core values, but would also negatively affect our consumers, customers, suppliers, bottling partners and associates.

As a business, it is appropriate for us to help foster diversity, unity and respect among all people. We advocate for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Coca-Cola does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.”

While many other businesses have continued to speak out against discrimination, there are still about 100 religious freedom bills up for vote throughout the country.

Meanwhile Ogilvy's global creative chief Tham Khai Meng has tweeted images of the hands of people of different gender and colours touching a bottle cap to form the shape of a Coke bottle in a stand for diversity by the brand.


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