01 August 2012

Chick-Fil-A

I recently read an article about Chick-Fil-A's socially conservative reputation, and I thought I'd write out my thoughts.  In the original article the writer makes five points.  Below, I've aligned my paragraphs accordingly.  Enjoy!


While I think that any business should be evaluated against their contribution to the community in addition to their products, these points sound a bit shrill.

Before I share my thoughts on the writer's points, I'll disclaim that my wife is a stay-at-home mom, and we will sacrifice to the bone to keep it that way.  We eat dinner with our kids every night.  We believe our kids need Mom and Dad there as often as possible, and that children are entitled to a mom and a dad.  http://www.lds.org/family/proclamation/  We believe that practicing homosexuality is a sin and that condoning said sin individually or collectively will not result in a social good.  We don't pretend that homosexuality is something that can be prayed away, but we believe that all temptation can be overcome through Jesus Christ.

Social conservatives like myself and the Cathy family are at a crossroads.  I say that I don't condone the practice of homosexuality, but what amounts to condoning it? If I allow the redefinition of marriage by not fighting for traditional marriage, am I part and parcel of the consequences?  If the Cathy's hire someone who brings a gambling culture in the workplace, are they condoning gambling? It is the challenge that any employer is faced with when they consider workspace culture, brand, and morale as part of the overall product that they are selling.

Okay, here goes.

1 & 3.  Yes, it does bother me when I see businesses and charities supporting causes that I don't agree with.  However, I still donate to the United Way, to my church, and I still use the cashback bonuses from my credit cards despite my discomfort with some of the things that each organization supports.  Part of participating in society is compromise and I think the good outweighs the bad in a lot of cases.  For the record, I do think that the descriptions here sound contrived for shock value.  As a faithful Latter-Day Saint, I have heard a lot of mischaracterizations against my faith and understand that the above snippets probably don't tell the whole story.  Anyway, I think everyone has their threshold, which I think is the crux of both points here, even if the writing sounds a bit like an expose.

2.  Yes, I do believe that our individual actions can add up to collective judgment; I believe we reap what we sow, e.g. the 2008 financial crisis.  This writer's line of reasoning, though, seems to associate that principled statement with the idea that God sent Hurricane Katrina.  I believe in both God's blessings and his cursings, and I see the protection of traditional marriage as an important individual decision that will add up to a collective good.  I might use different words than Cathy, but I do believe that the practice of homosexuality is a sin and that any time a people collectively condones sin (or collectively embraces righteousness) the people reap what they sow.

4.  Lots of stuff here.

First, IANAL, but I suspect a great many organizations are sued all the time.  From the linked Forbes article:  "There are no federal laws that prohibit companies from asking nosy questions about religion and marital status during interviews. Most companies don't because it can open them up to discrimination claims."  Chick-Fil-A sees their employees as part of their brand; they have chosen a more difficult road, indeed, but, as a social conservative, I like the incentive that they create by hiring wholesome, clean-cut, God-fearing individuals.

Second, I don't really care what "some call" anything.  Millions of people call my faith a "cult", but what they really mean is "socially not mainstream".  If you then mean to ask "do you want to support what some call 'not mainstream'", I say, I stand by my convictions regardless of the name-calling.

Third, there is a lot of data that shows that married people *are* more productive, stable, etc. than those who are not.  Homeowners are, too.  I realize that this statement is skewed with the fact that many are seeking to change the definition of marriage itself as we speak.  Perhaps a study about civil unions would show the same levels of productivity and stability.  The point is that I myself prefer to hire those who are more stable and productive, and it is prudent for a business to keep itself in business by taking in as many reasonable indicators as possible when evaluating a candidate.

Fourth, Apple puts a lot of demands on its employees to maintain a certain image.  It is Apple's perogative to extend their brand through their employees as well as their products, and they have generated a lot of success because of it.  I applaud any business that incentivizes productive, wholesome behavior, and if a business wants to hire drug-tested, background-checked, clean-cut individuals as part of their overall brand, I applaud them for that.

5.  I think we should save the Big Brother references ("against their will" and all that) to entities that actually have real sway over our lives, like the government.  Besides, isn't firing always against the will of the employee? Good businesses make value judgments all the time, and that extends to who they hire and fire, including whether they need to make room for a one-breadwinner family over a two-breadwinner family.  During the depression, people were let go if it was discovered that it was a second job; the employer wanted to make room for a breadwinner that didn't have a job at all.  If given the option between hiring a person from a one-breadwinner family vs. a two-breadwinner family, I'd hire the first.