Citi sticks with Justin Thomas despite homophobic slur
While some brands have severed ties with Justin Thomas, the pro golfer recently caught using an anti-gay slur on camera, Citi is standing by him—but in a different capacity. In a blog post on Monday, the banking giant admitted to considering termination of its relationship with Thomas, which dates back to 2015, but decided instead to use the incident to “create change.”
In the post “When an apology is not enough,” Citi Chief Marketing Officer Carla Hassan wrote about finding the homophobic slur “beyond offensive” and in “sharp contrast to what we stand for as a company.” Hassan noted that Citi has consulted with many in the LGBTQ+ community and said that some in that community, and within Citi as well, supported ending the sponsorship of Thomas.
“We want to do more than make it clear that it is wrong to use this word,” Hassan wrote. “Instead, we hope our efforts can lead more people to make an affirmative choice not to use this word or others like it—and to speak up when others do—because they understand the impact it can have, including on a friend, colleague or teammate who may be struggling with the decision to disclose their sexual orientation.”
On January 9, while golfing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, Thomas missed a hole and muttered an anti-gay slur under his breath, which was picked up on camera. He is currently the PGA Tour’s third-ranked pro golfer.
Thomas, who recently said he will undergo training to become a better person following the incident, will now use his own platforms to rally support for the LGBTQ+ community and causes as part of his work with Citi. He will also donate some of his Citi 2021 sponsorship fees to LGBTQ+ organizations, Citi said.
“We will work with Justin, our internal Pride networks and LGBTQ+ organizations to develop an action plan to quickly move this effort forward,” wrote Hassan.
Earlier this month, Ralph Lauren, which has sponsored Thomas since 2013, cut ties with the golfer as a result of his behavior.