Posts Tagged ‘business’

An open letter to AT&T’s Joelle Phillips on SB2566

February 17th, 2014 No comments

bell phillipsBelow is an open letter I have sent to Tennessee’s AT&T President Joelle Phillips regarding Sen. Mike Bell’s (R-Riceville) discriminatory legislation SB2566.

My hope is we will see an effort that was promised us in 2011 and like we are now seeing by AT&T and the Chamber of Commerce in the state of Kansas regarding a similar discriminatory bill.

In the meantime, learn more about what you can do from the Tennessee Equality Project.


Joelle Phillips:

I would like to know where AT&T Tennessee stands on SB2566, a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell that would protect the choice of businesses to discriminate against legally married same-sex couples.

AT&T Kansas as well as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce are publicly working against a mirror of this bill in Kansas. You can read about their effort here.

In May 2011, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce expressed regret for pushing discriminatory HB600 after AT&T President Gregg F. Morton and nine other prominent job-creating members stood up and issued public statements of opposition to the Chamber’s bill. AT&T in particular made a promise:

While the timing of the announced change by the Chamber was not ideal, I believe their public statement sent a positive message to show that the business community stands against discrimination. AT&T does not support any laws, or legislative efforts, that discriminate against populations based on race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and I know businesses across our state similarly oppose any form of discrimination.

That opposition should be clearly reflected by those who represent us in Nashville, and I am confident that this will be the case going forward. I know AT&T will work with NGLCC and other advocacy groups to oppose measures that we believe to be discriminatory against these populations, not only in the state of Tennessee, but also across the nation, and we will encourage the Chamber to adopt similar positions in the future.

You can read Gregg’s statement here. Tennessee Chamber President Deb Woolley’s contract was not renewed following what many viewed as her misuse of prominent national brands in support of discrimination. Will you issue a public statement regarding SB2566 and work against it as promised and as the President of AT&T Kansas and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce are now doing against a similar bill in Kansas?


UPDATE 2-18-14 11:45am: AT&T Tennessee President Joelle Phillips has responded saying that AT&T will stand up for their values and join the effort to stop SB2566. AT&T is the first of several major American brands and prominent members of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce to take a stand for equality.

Dear Mr. Grantham,

Thank you for contacting me about this bill. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention, and I appreciate your recognition of AT&T’s past work to speak out on discrimination.

As you noted, AT&T opposes discrimination against people based on race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

AT&T’s position on discrimination is simple; we oppose it, and we don’t do it. AT&T is contacting members of the general assembly to communicate our concern that the bill conflicts with that position.

Joelle Phillips President – AT&T Tennessee
333 Commerce Street, Suite 2104
Nashville, TN 37201

UPDATE 2-18-14 2:18pm: I’ve reached out to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and other prominent members (Nissan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, KPMG, Embraer, Comcast, FedEx, and Pfizer) asking them to join AT&T and other Tennessee businesses in standing up for equality and fairness and stopping SB2566.

UPDATE 2-18-14 5:46pm: The bill’s Senate Sponsor, Sen. Mike Bell, has withdrawn his bill!

Read more from 2011:

Celebrating community values in business

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Short Mountain Distillery President and CEO Billy Kaufman addresses the local Woodbury Chamber of Commerce at their annual dinner on the topic of celebrating community values in small business.

Billy talked about how our corporate philosophy, the Golden Rule, guides us to do right by our neighbors by keeping business as local as possible, from the corn we use to our skilled labor and manufacturing equipment. Billy also talked with local business leaders about the opportunity before us to share our community’s values with a world of tourists hungry to reconnect with America.

An open letter to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce

tnchamberThe following open letter was sent this morning to membership development and Board of Director members of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce from prospective member Short Mountain Distillery. Our letter repeats concerns posted publicly by Alcoa, Nissan, FedEx, Comcast, AT&T, Embraer, KPMG, UnitedHealth and other prominent business leaders.

As a small business owner in Tennessee, I’m very interested in what the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce can offer us as members. However, recent events involving your president, Deb Woolley, are a cause of great concern.

I’m referring to the Chamber actively lobbying Tennessee lawmakers for legislation (HB600) that does not represent the values and business practices of the Chamber’s very best known brands and job creators.

Since Friday, several of these members, including Alcoa, Nissan, FedEx, Comcast, AT&T, Embraer, KPMG, and UnitedHealth, learned of the Chamber’s support of HB600. Within weekend hours, these business leaders issued statements distancing their successful brands from the Chamber’s misrepresentation of their values to lawmakers, our governor and the voters of Tennessee. It should have been as immediately clear to Chamber President Deb Woolley that this legislation was bad for business.

Once these brands reiterated their strong and successful values in public opposition to the Chamber’s actions, Mrs. Woolley blamed activists for the united actions of the Chamber’s best members and then issued a statement of opposition to the legislation after Gov. Bill Haslam had already signed the bill.

My concern is how the very best brands and job creating members were represented by the Chamber. What assurances do other businesses have that Chamber leadership will adequately represent the values of its best members? What can the Chamber do to ensure the values of the Chamber’s most valued brands wont be co-opted by personal political agendas causing members to issue embarrassing press releases to create distance from Chamber mistakes?

The Chamber benefits from diverse membership and leadership that stands for the values that make its best members as successful as they are. I appreciate your understanding and any effort you make to address these concerns.


Billy Kaufman, CEO
Short Mountain Distillery


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