You may recall that in a post last week, we called out Time Warner Cable for their ridiculously out-of-touch animated WiFi-Denti-fier tool. The tool basically assumed that you were straight, with no options for letting users select otherwise. Because apparently, gay and transgendered people never have problems with movies endlessly buffering, which is one of the many annoying device overload problems this tool was meant to help you solve.
Well, we are thrilled to report that within days of this post going up, we got the nicest letter back from Time Warner Cable. Here it is in full:
Dear Em & Lo:
I'm writing in response to your "Time Warner Cable Is for Straight People Only, Please" post yesterday.
The Time Warner Cable Wi-Fi Dentifier Tool was designed as an interactive way to get users engaged and in no way intended to offend anyone. We've taken a closer look at the tool and understand how the characters and family composition used are not a true reflection of the diverse communities we serve so we have temporarily pulled it down and are revising the tool. We have a strong record in promoting, supporting and serving the LGBT community and are proud of consistently receiving the top score of 100% in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. We appreciate your feedback and are always looking for ways to do better as a company.
Time Warner Cable
So, there you go! We're still a little bit non-plussed about how this tool made it by so many levels of approval before going live, but we guess that's one of the problems with not having enough women in the corporate workplace.
And now a mea culpa of our own. Here's a letter we received from a reader in response to our original post on Time Warner Cable. It turns out that not only did the tool force you to select a "straight" option, it also showed only white avatars -- something we unfortunately failed to notice.
Hey guys! I read your blog about Time Warner excluding gays from their animation set-up, ugh! Like they can't get proper recognition like everyone else does! It's really great to see people speak up on behalf of gays. But you cant choose to be black, either. But they're only concerned about getting shot and killed by cops, receiving longer prison sentences (20% on average) than whites for the same crime and desire equal opportunity in legal matters, employment etc. But who cares you can't choose another race besides white, this is a gay issue and you stand up for them all!.... by getting sad u can't choose a gay partner in an animated avatar. Good day :)
Ouch! But, hey, it's good to have our readers keeping us on our toes, lest the speedy response from Time Warner Cable go to our head. Here's how we responded to that reader -- and if you visit the original post, you'll see we made changes there, too:
Point taken. We guess our only excuse is that as sex and relationship writers exclusively, we always focus on issues of sexuality, orientation and gender issues. But we should have mentioned the lack of choice when it comes to race too -- not sure if we can update on HuffPo, but we'll update on our site.
And when we wrote back to Time Warner Cable, we mentioned the reader's point, too:
Wow, thank you for taking our concerns so seriously. We appreciate the effort that went into building that tool and would love to see it reflect more diversity. While our focus as sex and relationship writers is on issues of gender and sexuality, we should also mention, while we have your ear, that the avatars being all white is also problematic. Again, thanks for your consideration. And congrats on the 100% rating by the HRC!
Em & Lo
All of which is to say: Speak up when you see something that isn't right! Even when you're the little guy (or gal) and it's the big guy (or gal) doing the thing that isn't right. Because, sometimes, the big guy just needs a little nudge to do the right thing. Also: We're not perfect, and we want you to tell us when we're not! But feel free to tell us when we're being awesome, too.