Goodyear Caught in Political Crossfire, Nationwide Boycott
Goodyear found itself in a hornet’s nest this week, following a leaked diversity training slideshow that included a ban on Make America Great Again (MAGA) attire and sentiments. Incoming Goodyear employees at its plant in Topeka, Kansas, were allegedly warned about inappropriate political displays.
While “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride” were considered acceptable, “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “MAGA Attire” and “Political Affiliated Slogans or Material” were listed in the unacceptable section.
The leak quickly garnered ire from President Trump as it circulated around the internet, who used social media to effectively support the preexisting campaign to boycott the company’s tires — adding that he would make sure Goodyear rubber is removed from the presidential limousine, posthaste. As you might have expected, this kicked up a media storm that brought more attention to the boycott Goodyear never wanted, while also placing it the center of a political fracas.
While the media has broadly framed this as “cancel culture” — something Trump and the GOP has consistently condemned — boycotts frequently offer a path to redemption and often exist as way to encourage change.
Meanwhile, cancel culture typically serves to unseat specific problematic individuals after having committed a presumed offense, as well as bring about the general removal of content deemed unsavory by those enacting social justice. Funnily enough, Trump has conflated boycotts with cancel culture in the past, and the media now seems to be doing the same to him. But we’re not interested in diving into the political swamp any further than necessary. For our purposes, the important issue is how badly this seems to be impacting Goodyear’s business… and attempting to uncover what actually happened.
That’s been made difficult by the tire company denying the image in question was created or distributed by its corporate office. Goodyear suggests it was not part of any diversity training course for new hires. However, it also didn’t claim the image had been digitally manipulated, nor did it deny that the slide was used for a presentation in Topeka. It likewise said it supported bans on political messaging within the company, creating an odd level of conflict in respect to its own guidelines.
“To be clear on our longstanding corporate policy, Goodyear has zero tolerance for any forms of harassment or discrimination,” Goodyear explained in a statement. “As part of this commitment, we do allow our associates to express their support on racial injustice and other equity issues but ask that they refrain from workplace expressions, verbal or otherwise, in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party as well as other similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of equity issues.”
It should be said that tons of companies openly supported the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization following the civil unrest that occurred in response to the death of George Floyd — either financially, or through corporate messaging. It was commonplace, and they were all well within their rights as private entities. But Goodyear doesn’t seem to understand that this stance is already in violation of its own stated terms. BLM (the organization) is overtly political and qualifies as a political entity for all intents and purposes, even if the slogan by itself does not.
Which makes this whole issue incredibly murky. However, the die had been cast, and Goodyear was now being mentioned in White House press briefings, starting with Trump answering questions about whether supported the boycott and what would happen if it cost people jobs. “I would be very much in favor of people [who] don’t want to buy there. And you know what, they’ll be able to get a good job,” he said. “You’ll be able to get another good job. I think it’s disgraceful that [Goodyear] did this.”
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The only way to keep politics out of the workplace is to ban any kind of political expression at the workplace regardless of political affiliation. Start with company uniforms which only show the name of the company and maybe the employees name. The Company pays for the uniforms and requires them to be worn when working. Any clothing worn outside the workplace the Company is not responsible for.
Yep, you can't wear a Trump MAGA hat to work. You can't wear a Biden 2020 hat to work either. Only one side is having a hysterical meltdown about it. I'm ready for an adult as president.