Apple & Equal Marriage Rights
Here’s an unusual example of a high-profile company taking a high-profile position on a controversial social issue that is not clearly & directly related to their business interests. Apple says No on Prop 8.
Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 is a ballot measure in California, seeking to amend the state constitution to deny same-sex couple s the right to marry. In joining the fight against Prop 8, Apple was joining that other tech powerhouse, Google. Taking this kind of strong stance on a social issue is relatively uncommon for companies. And some have been critical, not just of the particular position Apple is taking on Prop 8, but of the fact they’re taking a position on this controversial matter at all. Why would it be a corporation’s role even to have a view on this sort of thing? How can management be advancing long-term shareholder value by doing this? Well, it just may be that in some cases, some issues are so important, and the morally right answer so obvious, that management just can’t contain themselves. But there’s another (more cynical?) explanation that has to do with employee morale. As Google’s Press Release points out, “we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. …. However… it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality.”
Apparently Apple and Google are not the only companies that feel strongly about this. See this press release about other companies joining the Equality Business Advisory Council to Defeat Prop 8. I’m of the view that interpreting the moral motivations of companies — figuring out why they did certain morally-loaded things — is somewhere between difficult and a metaphysical impossibility. But I would love to find a source of insight into this particular case. Who really made these decisions? CEOs? PR departments? Boards? Anyone have any ideas?
Please note that any inflammatory partisan comments about Prop 8 will be deleted. Obviously. Cynical and/or moralistic and/or optimistic conjectures about corporate motives, however, are welcomed.
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