I work at AllianceBernstein, an asset management firm that moved here from NYC a few years ago. Recently, AB was silent on the TN legislature attacking/targetting the LGBTQ+ community. After much outcry, they finally decided to address the issues through a Q&A with the CEO (questions developed by the Diversity Equity & Inclusion team, no questions from the audience allowed). It was an absolute disrespectful disaster that I wish I had recorded (they did not record or broadcast the event for employees working from home or other locations to listen in).
There were around 150 employees present. Here are the most upsetting comments made:
- The CEO made several jokes in attempts to lighten and diffuse the situation. One example was saying the COO wanted to move to Nashville to be a country music star. It was so disrespectful to take a subject that directly impacts the safety of his employees and make it a little comedy show for his own benefit. The laughter from the audience (most-likely people who found out about the event and showed up for face time with the CEO) was shocking.
- TWICE while he was being asked questions from the 2 panelists, he reached over and grabbed one of their water bottles and read the label on it out loud. I couldn’t believe how rude he was, like he was bored of the subject.
- When he was asked “if you knew then what you know now, would you have still moved the firm to Nashville?” And he said absolutely and it was a good decision (I get saving face, but still not the answer I would give my employees who are scared and hurting).
- A few phrases he used that were appalling included “some people decide to love someone of the same sex”
- When speaking on his refusal to allow AB to make a public stance or even an internal stance on the legislature: “I am the CEO of this firm and I will never risk the business’s success” then went on to compare this to not allowing investors to invest in nuclear energy. NOT THE SAME THING IN ANY WAY.
- Another justification of not decrying the legislation was “there has always been a divide in this country, even in NYC”. Pretty sure if I applied this mindset and didn’t improve an out-of-date process that causes risk to the business because “that’s how it’s always been” I’d get in trouble.
- When he did say that his employees need to respect their LGBTQ+ colleagues, he included employees “who are pro-life, have different faiths, and hold the convictions of God”
- He also boasted that he rehearsed with the panel 11 times, and I have no idea how the DE&I team let him speak knowing he was going to make these comments.
- And to top it all off, there were refreshments provided like it was a fucking party or something!
I have never, ever felt more disrespected as an employee. I know I am lucky to never have experienced something worse by an employer, but a large company that brags about their diversity and inclusion to attract diverse talent should never treat their employees like this once they’re in the door. The event made the situation so much worse. I have several colleagues who attended and they all feel the same way and we’re shocked that people were laughing along with him. The people who were laughing were clearly not queer employees and shouldn’t have taken up our space where we were supposed to address our serious concerns that the state is targeting us.
I would like to draw attention to this as AB claims to be an inclusive employer and has received a 100 on the HRC Corporate Equality Index for Best Places to Work. They do not deserve this. Additionally, they need to be pushed to pull their booth from the Pride festival this year and make a donation instead. If they don’t, the Pride chamber should expel them from participation.
It’s outrageous to show up in OUR space to market for OUR business and then refuse to support us as their employees. They cannot pick and choose what to support and voice their opinions on based on what the public might think.
Lastly, they are up for a couple of LGBTQ awards that they should be disqualified from:
If they get this award for 2023 I would want to know how after saying they would move to Nashville knowing their employees and their families would be unsafe. https://www.hrc.org/
They are also up for Business Resource Group of the year at work he TN Pride chamber and should be removed from the running there as well. They had the audacity to email employees yesterday asking us to vote for them.
This Alliance Bernstein employee asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.