This is a call for Safeway to stand by its customers, employees and its own stated corporate values and prohibit the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign from soliciting in front of its stores during the holiday season.
Safeway, Inc. is a Fortune 100 company (#63 in 2012), with 178,000 employees operating 1,644 stores with another 357 stores in California and Nevada operating under the Vons/Pavillions names. In 2011, customer sales were over $43.6 billion. Safeway, Inc. also operates a corporate foundation, employee giving and volunteer programs, and supports diversity in its hiring and buying programs. In addition to its profit mandate, Safeway, Inc. states “Safeway is so much more than a place to buy groceries. We're a part of the neighborhood and we believe in making each of our communities a better place to live and work.”
For their efforts, Safeway has been recognized with awards by many organizations for their contributions to health, community service, sustainability, diversity and overall corporate responsibility. So why allow The Salvation Army to actively solicit customers during the holiday season?
The Salvation Army is a global evangelical church and the second largest non-profit organization in the United States. While the Salvation Army arguably does do good work, it comes at a price for many of Safeway’s customers, primarily LGBT folks, their families, their friends, and an enlightened public. Because Safeway itself does not contribute to religious organizations for religious purposes or political advocacy agendas, we find it unacceptable that Safeway would allow an organization with both a direct religious mission and a long-standing history of discriminatory political lobbying and practices and direct discriminatory beliefs towards the LGBT community to accost its loyal customers during the holiday season with solicitations for an organization that is abhorrent in human rights and dignity.
This is the stated Mission of The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Furthermore, The Salvation Army operates according to eleven religious doctrinal statements as well as position statements on a number of controversial social issues, including gay rights. They are a polarizing organization, with some blissfully unaware that feeding the red kettles is also feeding a discriminatory agenda based in religious doctrine, and other customers, both straight and gay alike seeing only an offensive hate group impeding their grocery shopping and reminding them that hate exists.
For this reason, there is an ongoing active boycott of these red kettles by most LGBT organizations and their supporters. However, Safeway’s own commitment to the LGBT community, through its hiring and benefits, its inclusion of LGBT businesses in its diversity programs, its relationship with GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance) and its high rating of 85 by the Human Rights Campaign, put Safeway’s corporate values and commitment to respect its customers at direct odds with The Salvation Army. Banning these kettles is consistent with Safeway’s practices of non-solicitation at their entrances, and is in keeping with Safeway’s long-standing relationship to value all of its customers.
Because of Safeway’s size and national presence, banning these kettles will also send a national message that Safeway is truly committed to diversity and will not tolerate discriminatory groups using their properties to raise money. Another large organization with similar values, Target, banned the kettles several years ago amidst controversy and has not suffered any ill effects.
We simply call upon Safeway to do the right thing. The Salvation Army has many ways for donors who wish to contribute to them, without Safeway stores participating. By allowing them onto your property, you are directly contributing to a global discriminatory agenda targeted at your LGBT customers, their families, and their friends. By banning The Salvation Army, and directing your holiday cheer instead towards non-secular local food banks, Safeway keeps its corporate integrity intact and does not offend or hurt a significant number of its customers. There are better charities to support and partner with than The Salvation Army, and Safeway knows this.