Gay-friendly initiatives can bring backlash

By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/20/2004

The posters were meant to have an impact, and that they certainly did.

As part of a diversity campaign at Hewlett-Packard’s Boise, Idaho, office, the five posters each featured the face of an HP employee. Beneath the image was a single-word caption: “Black,” “Blonde,” “Old,” “Gay,” or “Hispanic.” “Diversity is our strength,” went the slogan of this diversity campaign.

The way one employee saw it, however, rather than fostering acceptance, the posters targeted heterosexuals and fundamentalist Christians like himself who believed that homosexuality was a sin. Richard Peterson, an employee with 21 years’ seniority, responded to the campaign by posting at his cubicle Biblical scriptures that, he later said in court, were meant to be hurtful to gay employees.