Elon Musk ought to apologize for making enjoyable of gender pronouns, says HRC

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Inc., is coming to the Axel Springer award ceremony in Berlin on December 1, 2020.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In a series of tweets this week, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, mocked people listing the pronouns that were supposed to be used by others to describe them in their online BIOS. Now a group that gave Tesla top marks as a great place to work for LGBTQ people says it should apologize.

More than ever, companies are under pressure to create an inclusive environment and support a diverse workforce. The practice of displaying pronouns on social media and executive bios is used by people who want to show respect or identify themselves as trans, non-gender, gender-specific, non-binary or intersex. (They are represented by the T and Q in the LGBTQ acronym.)

Apple managers Tim Cook and Greg Joswiak, for example, use pronouns in their Twitter BIOS. The Facebook settings allow users to customize their gender information and preferred pronouns or not show them if they prefer.

Musk’s first tweet included the words “if you put him / her in your bio” next to a picture of a soldier rubbing bloody hands over his face.

After fans and critics alike criticized the tweet, he defended himself by tweeting: “I absolutely support trans, but all of those pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare.” He then pointed out that Tesla is number one on the Corporate Equality Index, an annual list of the best places to work for LGBTQ workers.

This prestigious list is compiled annually by the Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit foundation that focuses on gender equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Well, this group says Musk should apologize.

“Musk’s insensitive comments are completely at odds with what HRC’s Workplace Equality Program works with companies on a daily basis to provide a safe, inclusive and fair working environment for employees,” the group wrote in response to a request from CNBC.

The organization’s president, Alphonso David, emphasized, “Elon Musk’s tweet mockery pronouns are exactly the opposite of what inclusive leadership looks like today. It is also definitely not in line with the best practices we recommend to companies.” He also said, “Musk should apologize.”

Tesla and Musk did not immediately return a request for comment.

Musk has been accused of being transphobic in the recent past. In July, he tweeted that “pronouns suck,” but deleted the tweet after his partner, Canadian musician Grimes, confronted him.

Here is the full statement from the human rights campaign:

The Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a comprehensive measure of the policies, practices and benefits of non-discrimination in the workplace, which are critical to the full protection and inclusion of LGBTQ workers. Tesla scored a 100 at the 2020 CEI based on this critical foundation of inclusive anti-discrimination strategies and benefits.

No benchmarking tool can fully take into account the day-to-day experiences of LGBTQ employees. The CEI criteria alone are a necessary foundation for LGBTQ admission, but do not represent the entirety of what is required to ensure a fully inclusive and welcoming environment. The CEI is not a cover for bad personal behavior, and HRC condemns Musk’s tweets making fun of pronouns.

Musk’s insensitive comments are at complete contradiction of what HRC’s Workplace Equality Program works with companies on a daily basis to provide a safe, inclusive and fair work environment for employees.

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