AT&T on Olympics: ‘This was a Pretty Easy Call’

Photo: Itar-Rass/Barcroft MediaPhoto: Itar-Rass/Barcroft Media

AT&T wrote in a blog post this week that Russia’s anti-gay law is harmful to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and harmful to a diverse society.

“We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere,” the post said, in part.

AT&T said it was responding to a request from the Human Rights Campaign, which urged International Olympic Committee sponsors to stand up for LGBT equality. AT&T isn’t an IOC sponsor, but says it supports the campaign’s principles.

AT&T is the first major U.S. corporation to publicly condemn Russia’s law, Human Rights Campaign officials said.

“AT&T should be recognized for showing true leadership in opposing this hateful Russian law and other sponsors that have failed to lead should take corrective action immediately,” the campaign said in a post on its website. “A company that claims to support LGBT equality should do so wherever it operates, not just in the United States.”

Following is an excerpt from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview on Friday, February 7, 2014 with AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson, courtesy of CNBC.

BECKY QUICK:Okay. I want to talk about the Olympics because AT&T just came out and is the first of the major advertisers to come out and openly condemn Russia’s policy – the LGBT policy there. What prompted you to do that right now? What prompted you to be the first one to really speak out?

RANDALL STEPHENSON:We’ve always been big supporters of our Olympic athletes – of the Olympics in general. We’ve always also been big supporters of equality in all regards. Our policies have always been very strong in that regard, and so when you see our athletes going overseas to compete in an environment that has laws that are discriminatory and it causes us some concerns, we just thought it was very important for us to come out and take stand on it.

BECKY QUICK:How long did you spend talking about it? And is this conversation at the board level? Is this conversation you were just having in your offices?

RANDALL STEPHENSON:We didn’t talk about it very long. This was a pretty easy call.

BECKY QUICK:And – what’s the feedback that you’ve gotten to this point?

RANDALL STEPHENSON:It’s all been – it’s been positive.

BECKY QUICK:Is there any other statements that you can or would make in Russia? And you haven’t heard from anybody in Russia, I take it, on this?

RANDALL STEPHENSON:No, our statement I think stands on its own. It’s very clear, I think.

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