Thursday, July 26, 2012
Practicing What You Preach
One time I drove from the metro-Detroit area, on a Tuesday afternoon whim, with a friend to Toledo - which also happened to be where the nearest Chick-Fil-A was located. Apparently we were feeling spontaneous and felt the need for carrot raisin salad? We even bought the "Eat Mor Chikin" stuffed cows as a souvenir. Ten years later, and six moves later, I actually still own that cow.
I am very much pro-gay marriage, gay rights, and equal marriage rights for all. From a human rights stand point, it makes sense. From a financial stand point, it makes sense. It is absolutely unbelievable to me that gay marriage is not 100 percent legal in every state of our fine Union.
Having said that…
Chick-Fil-A (unlike our country) was founded on Christian values. In fact, they are even closed on Sundays. We know the company principals, where donations go and what it stands for. It’s not a secret.
So what happened?
Dan Cathy, COO of Chick-Fil-A released a statement as to why he was against gay marriage. Dan Cathy is son of S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A and 91 year old billionaire. Fine, Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion. Now I am guessing, with his father being a billionaire and all, Dan Cathy is not strapped for cash either. The latest figure I can find is S. Truett Cathy is worth $1.3 Billion, and I am sure much of that is trickling down to his COO son.
So, the Cathy's like religion, hate gay marriage - cool. It's a free country, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? Well, maybe. We'll get into that.
The thing is, Chick-Fil-A does not own all of the quick services restaurants operated under their name. Chick-Fil-A has a franchise program. Franchises can be small with one store, or large with multiple stores in a region. Now one could argue that franchise owners know Chick-Fil-A’s core values, in fact even their franchise info page specifially states, "With its emphasis on family, and its early reputation for outspoken Christian values, Chick-fil-A has attracted broad American appeal."
So, yes, the franchise owners know what they are getting into and that Chick-Fil-A likes to spout opinions. But does that mean they should be punished, bullied - mob style?? And what about the workers that keep that franchise running day in and day out. I am talking about cashiers, maintenance crews, administrative and clerical workers, not to mention marketing, HR, devs – the list could go on and on. These everyday people, some making minimum wage, are counting on their parent brand, Chick-Fil-A, to support their small business venture.
They can get a new job, you say? They can find work at a company with a culture that is more open, and fits their needs? Um, have YOU tried to look for a new job lately? Especially in small towns, or rural areas?
Should a COO publicly share an opinion that is considered so hateful by many - when he has so many people counting on him for their livelihood?
I think Dan Cathy is 100 percent entitled to his own opinion - as Dan Cathy. Not as COO of a major corporation.
So, the COO spouts hate, and what happens?
The Jim Henson/Muppets brand does not want to associate and align themselves with a brand that does not consider all humans equally. And, hey, Chick-Fil-A, that is ok. Not everyone needs to agree on every subject all the time. But, Chick-Fil-A – why this sign stating Chick-Fil-A voluntary recalled the product? Instead of releasing a statement that the toys had a defect and were recalled – why not issue a statement with the truth, or even a version of the truth?
The other issue is the uproar has caused the Mayors of cities like Boston and Chicago to swear they will block Chick-Fil-A from coming to their towns. Really? Is that the best policy? Is a bully mentality where you’re expecting a brand that has a very long history of thinking one way to suddenly change their mind a good idea? You would not want anyone to treat you that way, I am sure. Oh, wait, that is what you are fighting against, aren't you?
But, wait, the Mayors are politicians. Politicans help make laws. Do we really want lawmakers deciding what small business (yes, franchises are small) can open and what small business is banned? Should it not be up to the individual person to decide if they would like to patronize the business - and let individuals speak for themselves, with their own wallets?
The truth is - Chick-Fil-A gives a LOT of money to causes that support anti-gay measures. If you do not like where your chicken dollars go - go elsewhere. Do not spend your money at Chick-Fil-A. But, do not tell a small business where they can and cannot do business, simply because they do not share the same belief system as yourself. Just like you should not tell able-minded adult who they can and cannot marry, simply because they do not share the same belief system as yourself.
And, in closing, if you actually want to help and make a difference - write your representatives, donate and please, go out and VOTE. And, this especially means you, Seattle.
And I leave you with Same Love, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring my good friend Mary Lambert on the hook.