The Right Wing of Chick-Fil-a

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Bryanne Sullivan
Business Ethics

The Right Wing Chick-fil-A

Chick-Fil-A enjoyed its entrepreneurial beginnings in Atlanta, Georgia by S. Truett Cathy. Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist and prides having the company follow a Christian corporate culture. In fact, the company’s statement of corporate purpose states that Chick-Fil-A works to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A” (Chick-fil-A, 2012). Being closed on Sundays, operating debt-free, and investing a percentage of the profits in the community are among the tenets of biblically-based principles that Cathy operates his business under. Recently, Chick-fil-A President, Dan Cathy, took the Christian values of the company to a whole new level by weighing in on the same-sex marriage issue. In an interview with the Baptist Press, Dan Cathy replied “Guilty as charged” when asked about the opposition against Chick-fil-A’s support of the ‘traditional’ family. What Cathy said was not ethically or legally wrong; but, the fact that he said it in implied conjunction with his company’s culture could potentially violate the ethical, and legal, boundaries, such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Act, all businesses have to endeavor under. Many say the Chick-fil-A controversy is an equality and freedom issue. One argument is that people have the freedom to marry who you choose; the other argument is that people have the freedom to do business regardless of your beliefs. Cathy had every right to say what he believes, even if the result might affect Chick-fil-A’s bottom line.

Chick-fil-A had annual sales of $4.1 billion dollars in 2011, with restaurants in 36 states and Washington, D.C. Employees are trained to provide genuine hospitality, exceeding the customer’s typical expectations from a fast food restaurant. The success of Chick-fil-A is said to be attributed to S. Truett Cathy’s hard work and staunch adherence to the Christian-based business principles that he passed on to his son. Dan Cathy, the current President of Chick-fil-A and son of Truett Cathy, states on his web page, that Chick-fil-A does not define who he is. While the business is a huge part of his life, the corporation is not the only part of his life. Likewise, while religion defines Cathy’s values, those religious beliefs are not the entirety of Chick-fil-A. “‘We don’t claim to be a Christian business’. He [Cathy] attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, ‘There is no such thing as a Christian business…Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me…As an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us" (Berwitz, 2012).

Biblical principles are not indicative of discriminatory practices. Principles are a personal or specific basis of conduct or management. As Cathy defines those principles, they do not include discrimination against homosexuals or gay people who are legally married in other states. The restaurants are run with an emphasis on family values and excellent customer service. Cathy defines what he believes family to be more publicly than many other COOs or company presidents. Chick-fil-A has never been brought up with charges of violating the Equal Employment Opportunity Act or other discrimination prevention legislation. There is no indication that Cathy takes his personal beliefs and treats homosexuals any differently than anyone else. The United States operates under the freedom of speech. Dan Cathy, living as a citizen of the United States, had every right to state what he believes. Dan Cathy oversees a private charity foundation that Chick-fil-A...
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