Everyone dreads that PR Nightmare. The moment that every crisis management tool you’ve ever learned flies out the window and you’re left to be eaten alive by the public. Well Sochi Olympic sponsors are definitely being eaten alive in the controversial platform that is Russia. Sponsors were warned about the volatile environment under Putin, regarding aggressive laws against homosexual behavior and LGBT activists. With stringent laws banning “gay propaganda” and violent public arrests of gay-rights protesters, the world has taken notice of everything but the games. Definitely not what big time sponsors McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola had in mind.
Having sponsored the Olympics for decades, these companies are experiencing serious backlash from their silence regarding various human rights outcries. As written in each company’s mission statement, the UN’s Ten Guiding Principles are of utmost importance. Well…according to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, implementing respect for human rights in a corporate context has three primary components:
- A policy commitment to meet the responsibility to respect human rights;
- A due diligence process to identify, prevent, mitigate and be accountable for human rights abuses; and
- Processes to enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts the company causes or to which it contributes.
Here is a list of corporations actively supporting LGBT this Olympics:
This all brings up a very interesting realization: while many people are slamming silent corporations online and planning global boycotts, they aren’t the ones who chose the location of the Olympics. Shouldn’t the International Olympics Committee (IOC) be the one on trial? Why pick Russia in the first place? In an interesting interview with Mindy Worden of Human Rights Watch (HRW), she explains that Putin’s “gay propaganda” law has been tracked since inception (anyone remember the band Pussy Riot?). Worden states that “they [IOC] had ample time to put the pressure on Russia…If they had leaned on [Russia] before the law was signed, it would not have been signed.”
- The safety of Olympic athletes (not that it should matter but in this case LGBT athletes).
Enough said. If the safety of any athlete is in question, shouldn’t it be a no brainer?
- Sochi’s history of genocide.