business & politics: should they mix?

If you’re close to me, you probably know my politic leanings. If you’re don’t know me well, you may be in the dark. For now, I’m going to keep it that way- I hope that not knowing which side I actually support will encourage you to keep an open mind as you read. I think it’s important to play devil’s advocate when addressing political and social issues, so hopefully I veiled my actual opinion well enough ūüôā

For some people, business and politics are like oil and water- they can’t mix. For others, the two naturally go hand-in-hand.

Take Chick-Fil-A for instance. Many people don’t know that they routinely donate to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Whether you believe these organizations are worthwhile or not is your choice. But the fact is that Chick-Fil-A is using revenue generated through their successful business model to support an agenda that they believe in.¬†A liberal person’s first reaction may be disgust, shock, or even protest {NYU students did ¬†just that¬†back in February}.

But isn’t Blake Mycoskie of TOMS doing the same thing? For every shoe that is purchased, a pair is donated to a person in need. Just like Chick-Fil-A, TOMS is using revenue generated through their successful business model to support an agenda they believe in. Yet interestingly, I have yet to hear about an individual or group speaking out or protesting against TOMS. Admittedly, the premise of donating to a person in need is less contentious than the issue of gay rights, but I think the parallel still stands.

Should Chick-Fil-A be punished because some individuals don’t believe in their agenda? Maybe, maybe not. On one hand, a patron can still enjoy their pleasant service, attention to detail, and delicious gluten-free chicken nuggets though they may disagree with the political agenda of the chain. On the other hand, one’s right to boycott is one of the most powerful tools in encouraging a business to change their practices. When I was in high school, ¬†my mom and I boycotted Taco Bell {our favorite fast food restaurant} because they¬†artificially¬†pushed down the price of tomatoes, which severely affected migrant farm workers {it was a rough few months for us}.

What do you think? Should businesses practice their right to support a political and/or social agenda or should business and politics be kept separate? Do you boycott Chick-Fil-A or have you ever boycotted another business because of their practices?

P.S. Interestingly, Blake Mycoskie was criticized for attending a socially conservative event hosted by Focus on the Family. He later apologized on his website.

2 thoughts on “business & politics: should they mix?

  1. I’m sorry, but you’re drawing a parallel between donating shoes to people in need and discriminating against a group of people???? Seriously? I think the fact that no one has waged a war against TOMS speaks for the comparison you are trying to make. Just like to one will speak publicly against a group that would provide support to children in need. There are NOT types of discrimination, while trying to forge public opinion negatively about gay people is. And you think you are covering your political orientation with this?

    While I agree businesses can do whatever the hell they want with the money they generate, that will open them up for scrutiny and (gasp) criticism. Just the same as if a business supported discrimination against African Americans or women (see, that would be a parallel), then they sure would get people riled up because they are supporting discrimination.

    A patron can enjoy whatever tasty treat they offer, but they should also know that by doing so, they are indirectly supporting discrimination through their purchase. And there’s nothing wrong with giving people the facts.

    • Hey there. Thank you for the comment. Here is a paragraph by paragraph response.

      1) I absolutely understand your sentiment here. In my opinion, Chick-Fil-A is discriminating against a subset of citizens. But for many others, they don’t see it that way and my intention with this post was to give those opinions some acknowledgement (so apparently I did veil my actual opinion well enough, if not too well).

      I think I covered my bases by acknowledging that it wasn’t a direct parallel. But the italicized phrase holds true in both cases, despite your interpretation of the rest of the situation.

      2) I think we’re agreed on this point. As I mentioned, the power to boycott is a huge tool in the arsenal of consumers. Interestingly, I think a lot of Chick-Fil-A customers don’t know that they support anti-gay organizations- knowledge is the first step in deciding your reaction to their actions. But the unfortunate fact is that many people don’t care about where their money ultimately goes. For many people, the transaction stops once money has been exchanged for food.

      3) Absolutely agreed- hence my decision to boycott Taco Bell a few years ago. Out of curiosity (just curiosity, I promise!), do you boycott Chick-Fil-A and encourage others to do the same?

      I respect your opinion and do appreciate you taking the time to comment on this post. I think it’s also important to realize that others don’t necessarily agree, so I don’t think I should be chastised for raising an interesting question. I am playing a role in letting consumers know Chick-Fil’s practices, so I think that deserves respect based on your stance.

      I plan to write a follow up post so stay tuned for that! Thanks again for your comment.

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