The most difficult thing to do in an argument is listen to the other side, especially when the disagreement is between discrimination and equality.
I don’t particularly want to listen to people on the opposite side of North Carolina’s HB2 law, (and I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual) but as a minority and a businessman, I understand that the best decisions only happen when you have diverse voices present in the discussion.
Equality isn’t granted by someone else, it is a given for every human being and in acknowledging that, I understand that it means people who disagree with me have an equal right to voice their displeasure with a situation and seek a solution. It is a double-edged sword for whomever is holding it.
This month, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found itself holding that sword in a very public setting. On one hand, you had members like myself, my PS|PS Digital co-founder Greg Albright, and the Human Rights Campaign. On the other, member organizations and individuals who either disagreed with us, or were ambivalent to the situation.
All of us equal, dues paying, active members, invited by the DMA to discuss leadership at a forum in – you guessed it – North Carolina.
The irony of the situation was not lost on Greg and me in April when we sat down to discuss how we as individuals and as an organization would handle the situation. Let me tell you, I wasn’t thrilled about going to North Carolina, or spending company money to send our teammates there.
I also wasn’t thrilled that our hosts, the DMA, had yet to make a statement either way. How could they, as an international, industry leading organization, not take a stance and … what? Agree with one group of members while alienating others? Make a hasty, reactionary statement based on pressure? Is that really leadership?
That’s not how Greg and I built this company, and personal thoughts aside, I’m glad that’s not how the DMA leads.
The statement the DMA did eventually release to summit attendees read in part:
[The] DMA opposes discrimination in all forms, and following discussion with DMANF leadership, co-chairs of the Leadership Summit, and DMANF members, DMA has taken the step of signing a corporate letter initiated by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in opposition to HB 2. Additionally, DMA will be providing information in Leadership Summit registration packets about Chapel Hill-area businesses that are LBGT-friendly. And, DMANF is providing time for individuals and organizations that want to learn more about this issue to meet with HRC representatives during the Summit.
As a membership organization, the DMA faces the same bipartisan challenges our government does, and in my opinion they have done a much better job as leaders.
I’m proud to align my business with an organization that opposes discrimination in all forms, listens to its members, and sets the example for effective leadership in our industry.
Cheers to the DMA and Equality for all, whomever that might be.