It’s only been a week since Telstra reportedly caved to pressure from the Catholic Church in Australia and backed away from its support of the marriage equality movement. It’s a worthwhile read, check it out.
Telstra tried to backpedal pretty quickly, in the face of unbridled social media uproar (and indeed reporting in the mainstream media as well). The Catholic Church did, too, stating it had made no threats to withdraw its custom, but by the time the story broke, the damage had been done. Telstra’s initial response to the furore was to state that it was backing away from active involvement in the debate, and it would allow the government to take the lead on this issue.
However, as most observers will probably be aware, the government isn’t taking a whole lot of leadership in this space; the government of the day has decided to hold a plebiscite which may or may not succeed, instead of (doing their jobs and) simply making it legal by passing legislation, as elected representatives of the people. It’s a bit of a messy situation.
Regardless, whether it’s that fact or the significant backlash against Telstra for its fairly incomprehensible position that’s made the difference today … well who knows, but Telstra’s CEO Andy Penn has (again) taken to Telstra’s Exchange Blog to state a new direction for Telstra in this space. In particular, Penn said:
Telstra supports marriage equality. Last week we advised that out of respect for the individual our view had been that we would not add further to the debate on marriage equality ahead of a plebiscite or parliamentary debate. It is clear that rather than Telstra stepping back we should in fact step forward and support our view for marriage equality and so that is what we will do.
By renewing our active position, we acknowledge that we are at equal risk of inflaming a new debate but it is the right thing to do. It also remains very important that we continue to recognise and respect the right of the individual to hold their own view on this issue.
Well done. Though there will doubtlessly be those coming out of the woodwork to condemn Telstra on taking an active stance on marriage equality, we agree with Andy Penn that this is the right move for Telstra. They should never have backed away from their position in the first place, but it is at least comforting that they’ve come to their (corporate) senses and changed their minds.