Car company Holden is maintaining its sponsorship of Collingwood Football Club following Eddie McGuire’s controversial joke about drowning a female journo. However, the funding has been restructured to champion diversity. Half the budget is now put to the footy club’s women’s AFL team and community projects.
Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said it was a hard decision to make, and one Holden was recently mulling over, but ultimately McGuire’s widely reported comments do not reflect the company as a whole.
“The easy thing to do would be to walk away from Collingwood, the hard road is to stick together and work side-by-side to champion diversity and continue to drive meaningful change,” he said. “That is what we have decided to do; we sponsor Collingwood, not an individual.
“Industries like automotive and sporting codes like the AFL are often viewed as ‘blokey’ and behind the times when it comes to social issues. We now have a chance to take a stronger leadership position. Large organisations such as Holden and Collingwood have an important role to play in reinforcing the values of diversity, equality and inclusion. We can be a stronger force working together.
“Myself, and the entire Holden team, remain firm in categorically rejecting the comments made by Mr McGuire. This was a difficult decision and I sought counsel from friends, family and colleagues. Ultimately, however, our partnership is with Collingwood and the club has a strong record of championing diversity and inclusion. We want to continue to work together because this partnership is about more than just footy.”
McGuire recently made headlines when he and fellow on-air talent joked about drowning chief footy reporter at The Age, Caroline Wilson.
The comments were allegedly made in jest during a charity day at the MCG on the June long weekend Monday called the “Big Freeze at the G”.
The comments were widely condemned by radio stars and industry body MEAA with all involved parties apologising for their comments.
New Holden Collingwood Sponsorship
The restructure means Holden will become a partner of the women’s team, a major partner of the women’s ambassador program and of the grassroots program.
The statement issued by Holden also included the automobile business leveraging Collingwood’s current diversity programs, launch a development and empowerment program for women and a professional development program for women in Holden’s national dealer network.
“Collingwood has a strong record of championing change and diversity,” added Bernhard.
“The club runs a number of fantastic internal and external diversity, equality and community programs, and club CEO Gary Pert is a founding member of the Australian Elite Sports Male Champions of Change Program. These are the values Holden is supporting.
“Holden is proud of its stance and position on diversity, equality and inclusion. We still have work to do but we have made big strides in recent years. For example, we have a paid leave policy for people who are impacted by domestic or family violence, we are introducing a ‘blind CV’ hiring policy to tackle unconscious bias and Holden ranks in the top two for gender diversity across the automotive industry. This is an integral part of what Holden stands for and we believe Collingwood shares these values. We can be a stronger force for change together.”