Two weeks ago Justin Thomas, one of the top golfers in the world, made headlines when he used a self-described "inexcusable" anti-gay slur at a tournament. Thomas, who is not known to be queer, missed a putt and said f*gg*t, which was caught on his live mic. Shortly thereafter he apologized in a televised appearance while still on the green.
While the apology was swift, it didn't keep him from consequences. Ralph Lauren, a brand that has been working with the athlete since he became a professional, announced they would be ending their relationship. PGA Tour also said that he would likely be fined. Now, Citi has published their own statement explaining why they will not be dropping the athlete.
"Citi is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and equality more generally, and we found Justin Thomas' language beyond offensive and in sharp contrast to what we stand for as a company," Citi's Chief Market Officer Carla Hassan wrote on the company blog. The company has a history of LGBTQ+ affirming and inclusive policies like their recent "True Name" program. "While he recognized how wrong his language was and apologized, we have made it clear to Justin that an apology alone isn't sufficient."
While the company considered terminating Thomas they opted instead to create change and consulted with unnamed members of the community who supported the decision. To do that, they will work with the golfer to ensure he uses "his platform to play an active role in accelerating support for the LGBTQ+ community and to increase awareness of the discrimination this community continues to face." But it's not just words and platforms, he has been charged to donate a "meaningful portion" of his 2021 sponsorship fee to "mutually agreed upon LGBTQ+ organizations" that are the product of a plan crafted by Citi's internal Pride networks.
"The strong feelings this situation has evoked among many, including some of my colleagues, weighs very heavily on me," Hassan wrote after stipulating that if the company feels Thomas is not working towards the stated directives they will sever the contract. "While not everyone will agree with the approach we are taking, I can give you my strongest assurances that this course of action is based on our allyship for the LGBTQ+ community and is backed by my personal commitment to lead the effort necessary to create something positive out of this. We hope that even those who would have preferred a different course of action will work with us to make this effort as impactful as possible, inside and outside of Citi."