The interesting thing about making a stand is the people who believe in you will reach out to help and support you. Even without you asking. I’ve received emails, comments and Facebook messages from numerous people. Out of these, 2 people who wrote to me stand out.
One of them was a silent reader of my blog who felt obliged to share with me that there was a thread on hardwarezone EDMW forums about our family. She had wanted to share it with me because there were some untrue allegations in it and thought I should know. I went in, read the thread and had a good laugh. The person who started the thread has no clue what our family is about and made all sorts of amusing assumptions (our daughter is adopted because PAP government now allows gay people to adopt and she only gets to read books about LGBTs so she is going to turn out gay). My favourite comment has to be by someone who posted “real life lesbians, always more disappointing than imagined.” Yeah, we’re just like everyone else. We don’t actually go out partying every night and invite random straight men to join us for threesomes. Instead, we get married, have children and blog about parenting stuff. Boring right? HAHA.
All in all, it was good for a laugh on my bus ride home.
The other person was a Singaporean who is now living overseas. Her specialty is in PR and she had read my blog because her friend had shared it on Facebook. She offered to write to IKEA HQ on my behalf and before I got a chance to reply to her email, she had written in and got a response from IKEA HQ.
Here is the email she wrote:
Dear Ms Sonne,Hope this email finds you well. I am a Singaporean writer/blogger based out of Macau and IKEA in Singapore has been making the headlines over it’s discriminatory stance against the LGBT community.I have no affiliations to the blogger Olivia who is copied here, but have many friends in the LGBT community.From a media and marketing point of view, I felt the need to bring this to your attention and highlight this because it goes against what the IKEA brand believes in and stands for. In this case, IKEA Singapore has unfortunately chosen the wrong partner to collaborate with, endorsing messages of hate and discrimination with its partnership – and we all know what happens when partnerships don’t share the same raison d’être , or worse still endorse insidiously biased bigoted messaging.I am a big IKEA fan and customer and I think it is important that I should bring it up should this hit the global media outlets for a PR crisis given how Singapore has been on the media radar quite recently since the passing of Lee Kuan Yew and any controversy is a juicy piece of news.http://olivia.thechiongs.com/2015/04/19/ikea-please-stop-supporting-lawrence-khong-and-his-hate-agenda/Should you have any questions, perhaps Olivia would be best to furnish you with more information as I don’t live in the country but seeing the affiliation of your brand with a cult magic show taints my impression and love of your brand.Best,Juliana Loh
Thank you for your email. Please note that all IKEA stores are run under franchise agreements and that we are not directly involved in the Singapore operations. We are however aware of the situation and are in contact with Ikano Group who are running the Singapore store. They are managing the situation and are communicating their actions via e.g. their Facebook page. Please refer to them for more details about this. I have also forwarded your email to them. IKEA does indeed support equal rights independent of sexual, religious or other preferences and we take this seriously.Regards,
Dear IKEA fans, thanks for your patience while we took time to come to an informed decision on an issue that has raised sensitivities in our community.
After listening to the questions raised, we decided to do a thorough review. We spoke directly with the organisers, reviewed the content and confirmed that the Vision show offers high family entertainment value, therefore we will be continuing our promotion. We regularly offer promotions to our IKEA FAMILY members across a variety of entertainment options, and in this case, our IKEA FAMILY members were being offered a discount on tickets to the show.
As a company, IKEA Singapore respects the diversity and equality of all people living in our community. We also respect that all individuals have a right to their opinions and personal choices, including the freedom to choose their preferred entertainment.
What this really means is
IKEA HQ has spoken. Compared to brands like Google, who have shown their consistent support to LGBTQ around the world, IKEA HQ does not have enough clout to maintain their own global policy within certain countries. Even after I have pointed out what Lawrence Khong stands for and how his church uses the magic shows. I suppose that is what happens when you are a franchise business. You lose control of certain elements, even if you have clearly outlined that it is a global policy. Either that or IKEA HQ is just making the financially sound decision of appeasing the majority and displaying corporate hypocrisy. It’s fine to support the LGBTQ community in countries like USA, but not so much when it comes to us in Singapore.
However, I am glad IKEA Singapore has made their stand public this time. I now realise that I had missed it the first time round when they chose to remove a lesbian couple and their daughter from the IKEA Singapore magazine. This puts IKEA Singapore’s LGBTQ policy on the same level as IKEA Russia. I had not known about it and wish I had found out earlier. Now that I know, it allows me to make better decisions on whether to spend more money at IKEA Singapore.
In conclusion, IKEA HQ, if you wish to make good on this incident, show us that you truly believe in diversity and that your LGBTQ policy is the same around the world. Support Pink Dot by promoting the event or becoming one of the corporate sponsors. Other global brands like Google, Goldman Sachs and BP have done so. An international company like IKEA which prides itself on being socially conscious can surely do better.