UPS announces non-discrimination policy: will no longer fund some scout troops

The corporate foundation of United Parcel Service has added a non-discrimination policy to its grantmaking process, a move that could end the shipping giant’s funding for the Boy Scouts of America.

In September, an investigation by The American Independent showed that the foundations of major corporations were giving heavily to the Boy Scouts, despite the Scouts’ policy excluding gays and lesbians. Among those companies was UPS, whose foundation donated about $167,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010. That money went to local scout councils as well as the national Boy Scouts of America.

On its website, UPS Foundation posted the following on Monday:

The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that will mean that UPS will no longer make donations to Boy Scouts entities that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Kristen Patrella, UPS international public relations manager, explained the foundation’s new process to TAI via email.

“Our grant process is electronic and the need to confirm about having a non-discrimination policy that is aligned with that of UPS/The UPS Foundation will be embedded in the grant application,” she said. “For new grant requests, anyone who is not able to attest to having a non-discrimination policy that aligns with that of UPS/The UPS Foundation will be ineligible for funding.”

That is a shift from previous policy. When asked in September whether UPS would continue to support the Boy Scouts after that organization reaffirmed its policy of excluding “open or avowed homosexuals,” UPS stood firm on its donations.

“This decision has not and will not impact The UPS Foundation’s decision to provide funding to BSA although we evaluate each funding request on an individual basis,” Petrella told TAI at the time. “UPS has always supported and will continue to support youth development. A large number of UPS employees were involved with the Boy Scouts in their youth and some of them continue to serve as scout leaders today. UPS believes in supporting organizations with which its employees are involved.”

LGBT rights groups including GLAAD and Scouts for Equality had been putting pressure on UPS to end funding to the Boy Scouts until it ceased discriminating against gay scouts and volunteers. A petition gathered 83,000 signatures.

Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality praised the move by UPS.

“UPS showed true bravery today in standing with the 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders, who oppose the Boy Scouts’ hurtful anti-gay policy,” Wahls said in a statement on Monday. “That bravery is what Scouting is all about. Corporate America gets it better than most: policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they’re bad for business and they’re hurting the Scouting community. You would think that after all the Boy Scouts have lost as a result of this policy, they would understand that.”

GLAAD, which is working with corporate foundations to enforce or enact non-discrimination policies, praised the move.

“More and more corporate leaders are enacting strong non-discrimination policies for practices including grant funding and hiring,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. “Equality is not only good for business, but supported by a vast majority of Americans. The time is now for the BSA to end this outdated and unpopular ban before other corporate funders pull dollars and scouting families drop their support.”

At least one other corporate foundation has revamped its giving process to be in line with its non-discrimination policy. Intel said earlier this year that it will begin requiring organizations that are seeking funds to sign an affirmation that they will follow Intel’s nondiscrimination policy which includes sexual orientation.