Brian Huseman, an Amazon vice president, earlier this year sent a memo to members an employee group in an effort to reassure them that the company would keep LGBT issues in mind when selecting a second headquarters location.
As Amazon was starting to dig into the 20 communities in the running for its second headquarters, some of the retailer’s employees were pushing internally for the company to place HQ2 in an LGBT-friendly city.
In late February, Brian Huseman, a vice president of public policy at the company, responded to those concerns in an email to members of glamazon — an employee mentorship and advocacy group on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues — reassuring them that the company would keep their interests in mind when selecting HQ2.
“I am personally very proud of our long-standing track record of supporting our LGBT employees and advancing legal protections for LGBT people,” Huseman wrote. “And we’ll continue to join the business community in efforts to oppose laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination, no matter where HQ2 lands.”
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During Amazon’s monthslong search for a second headquarters city somewhere in North America, outside observers have been comparing bidders’ data points — from labor market indicators to educational statistics and gauges of housing markets and transit options. The company announced 20 finalists in January, and has been conducting site visits since, with a goal of making a decision sometime this year.
There have also been questions about what weight social issues would have on Amazon’s thinking, and whether the company, with its first headquarters in progressive Seattle, would seriously consider a second city that was less accepting or had fewer legal protections for LGBT people.
The Washington Post on Friday reported that Amazon had “quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria” for a second headquarters, citing two unnamed sources. The newspaper said that company representatives have asked elected officials about policies related to LGBT rights.
In February, No Gay No Way, a coalition of activists, started a campaign to push Amazon to avoid places with a history of discrimination. The group placed advertisements on trucks driving through Amazon’s Seattle campus, and on banners towed from planes above, to get Amazon’s attention. They also went the direct route, sending Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos a letter. The group highlighted nine states, home to cities under consideration for HQ2, that they said lacked comprehensive protections for LGBT people.
Amazon employees raised similar concerns inside the company, prompting Huseman’s response.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to hear from glamazon about the HQ2 selection process, and wanted to respond directly to you about our efforts to ensure a positive climate for Amazon’s diverse employee population,” Huseman wrote.
Huseman cited language in Amazon’s original request for proposals, noting that the project “requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long term success.”