A few months ago, Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, the fried chicken fast food chain, appeared on The Ken Coleman Show and revealed that he is anti-gay, which created lots of buzz in the media. Chick-fil-A has openly expressed their Christian morals by closing all of their restaurants on Sundays and as well as sending donations to Christian groups that oppose gay marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” said Cathy according to the Huffington Post.
Uproar and scrutiny of Chick-fil-A followed Cathy’s comments. Numerous people took to their blogs to vent their criticism, and there were “kiss protests” staged by pro-gay activists in Chick-fil-A stores throughout the nation. Supporters of Chick-fil-A and traditional marriage, such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, launched counter-protests on “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” by encouraging others to eat at the restaurant.
On the official website, Chick-fil-A posted a press release that the company has been managed by “biblically-based principles” since the day it was started, however it will treat “every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
“We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena. Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
I completely understand that people have their own opinions on certain controversial issues in the world today but I think that it is important to keep your opinions to yourself, especially when you are representing a large company. I believe that it is important for companies to be unbiased on major issues, like gay marriage, in order to remain reputable and run a successful business. In this situation, I think the best PR move would be for Cathy to publicly apologize for his divisive comments.
At the very least, it was significant that Chick-fil-A made a statement addressing the controversy instead of ignoring it. I think that it is difficult for a company to make a comeback from all of the damage that they caused to a certain community. It is important for companies to keep personal opinions to themselves in order to represent their enterprise in the best light and remain welcoming to all types of customers. Because actions speak louder than words, it would be smart for Chick-fil-A to actually demonstrate that they are not prejudiced against gays and have some kind of media spot to assure customers of their respect for all people.
Do you think it is acceptable for employees of a popular and recognizable company like Chick-fil-A to share political and social opinions that could be potentially offensive?