The open line: Plus, when Walmart withdrew board offer to gay executive and another LR homicide | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The open line: Plus, when Walmart withdrew board offer to gay executive and another LR homicide

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM

The line is open. We'll close with a couple of items:

* WALMART AND THE GAY EXECUTIVE: Interesting anecdote in New York Times article today about John Browne, former CEO of BP, the British petroleum giant, whose written a book about his travails after he was outed as gay. The Arkansas angle:

As Mr. Browne left BP’s headquarters the day he resigned, someone yelled “gay scum” at him. And “driving away from the corporation that I helped to build felt like dying.”

Lee Scott, chief executive of Walmart Stores at the time, called him and, “with sadness in his voice,” withdrew an informal offer to join Walmart’s board. “The situation was untenable, given the active religious right in Arkansas,” Mr. Scott said, according to Mr. Browne’s book.

Walmart has banned discrimination against gay employees since 2003, according to a spokesman, and Mr. Scott championed diversity during his tenure at the nation’s largest employer. Walmart had a gay board member at the time (though not someone who is publicly gay), and Mr. Scott rescinded the offer not because Mr. Browne was gay, but because of allegations of misuse of corporate funds leveled by his former lover, the Walmart spokesman said. (A subsequent investigation by BP cleared Mr. Browne of any misconduct.)

The Walmart rejection, he said, coming right after he was outed only reinforced his perception that a publicly gay person would not be welcome at the highest levels of major corporations. 

* LR HOMICIDE: Police say Roderick Knowlton, 21, was shot to death around noon today at 2113 S. Pine. No other details at the moment.

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