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Did Chick-fil-A Really Go Woke?

Did Chick-fil-A Really Go Woke?

Chick-fil-A is getting some backlash for going woke.  It has to do with the existence of a “diversity” department in the corporate structure.  That has put the fast-food operation in the sight of some folks on the right.  This is in keeping with the backlash against Anheuser Bush, for putting transgender influencers on its Bud Lite cans, Target, for putting up a major display of LGBTQ+ promotional items, and Disney for taking a position on legislation banning sexual content directed at young children in schools.  (It was never a “Don’t Say Gay” bill as the left so eagerly misrepresented.)

In the Bud, Target, and Disney cases, there was a clear promotion of the most extreme alternative lifestyles – and in the case of Target, it included children’s “message” clothing.  That is a far different situation than Chick-fil-A, which has had an internal diversity operation for several years – most dealing with employment practices.  

What makes the Chick-fil-A case significantly different is that the company has historically been the target of leftwing backlash for the owners’ conservative Christian beliefs.  The only noticeable impact that it has had on the food chain operation is that the outlets are not open on Sundays.  

The owners have been criticized for their pro-life position on abortion.  As conservative Christians, the owners have followed the position of abhorring the sin but loving the sinner.  More importantly, those beliefs have not impacted the serving of great chicken sandwiches to everyone – and to hire regardless of race, creed, or lifestyle.

Several years ago, Chick-fil-A was on the top of the news for their owners’ conservative values – with those on the left calling for a boycott.  It did not work – just as most left–wing boycotts do not.  Chick-fil-A soared to one of the most successful fast-food franchises in the country. 

In fact, the one near me has a line of cars in the drive-thru at almost any hour of the day.  One of my liberal friends – with whom I dine frequently – refuses to eat at Chick-fil-A as her personal protest.  

It was interesting to see how knee-jerk reactive the left can be.  MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” line up – with some of the leading voices in leftwing propaganda — was suddenly in praise of Chick-fil-A.  Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist – three hardcore lefties – were all in praise of Chick-fil-A as one of their favorite eateries.  They even praised their Christian values.  (Brzezinski must have forgotten about her pro-abortion stand in that moment).

It should be noted that the backlash against Chick-fil-A on the right is very limited compared to the attack on Anheuser Bush, Target and Disney. A lot of conservatives are not joining the anti-Chick-fil-A backlash.  As the situation becomes clearer, the protest is likely to evaporate. 

I doubt that their business will be hurt – unlike AB (with a $19 billion drop value) and Target (with a $16 billion drop).  The consumer jury is still out, but the Bud Lite brand may be dead.  Numbers vary in the Disney case, but gate revenues and product sales are noticeably down – and the Disney animated movie released at the height of the controversy, “Strange World,” bombed like no previous offering by the number one producer of Childrens’ content.

History seems to suggest that leftwing boycotts generally fail – and may even make the target more popular.  Chick-fil-A is but one example.  Many conservative voices speak out against all corporate boycotts, such as Sean Hannity.  But boycotts against corporate wokeness seem to have an effect.  Perhaps because conservative backlashes tend to be more organic, Conservative folks may be more willing to give up on companies that push against their values.  It is more of an instinct than a response to any call-to-arms.

One of my major services as a public affairs consultant has been to advise businesses to stay away from intermingling their marketing strategies with partisan or controversial issues.  It limits their growth potential and is a fiduciary disservice to stakeholders.  Anheuser Bush, Target, and Disney have learned this the hard way.  While proclaiming their righteousness, all three are cutting back on their promotion of controversial causes.

Personally, I will avoid the Anheuser-Bush family of beers (I do not imbibe much anyway) – and I have never liked shopping at Target.  I am too old for most Disney movies – and as far as Disney World – been there and done that.  As for Chick-fil-A, this commentary has made me hungry.  I may have to endure the line at my local outlet in the next day or two.

So, there ‘tis. 

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

4 Comments

  1. L rolo

    Stay away from POLITICS…it has no useful place in these industries! I do not know and do not care what your political persuasion is unless you shove it down my throat!

  2. Tom

    As an Independent / Unaffiliated voter, to me this whole Chick-Fil-A hiring a diversity manager was a nothing burger to me. Most companies have some sort of diversity program going on to ensure a welcoming and friendly environment for all employees, especially new hires, fairness of hiring practices, fairness of policy, equity in the treatment of employees, etc. This is all a part of the bigger “Human Relations” dept in many companies. The new hire announcement was not factually correct as this manager has been with the company since around 2007, see *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKaQ0Y8zFCQ*

    Chick-Fil-A is a Christianity based company that values Christian doctrine and seems to flow down the practices into its programs, policies, and procedures. People must remember that diversity is best represented by a rich array of employees with differing races, cultures, languages, both male and female genders, women’s and minorities operators, etc. Before criticizing Chick-Fil-A, a read of their diversity web page may help people understand that diversity programs which have been around since I was in management many years ago are much different than the woke ideology advocacy being practiced by some companies such as Target, AB, and Disney that have gone over the edge of diversity and well into political and social advocacy! See Chick-Fil-A diversity webpage at *https://www.chick-fil-a.com/dei*

    I am not sure why the left did this (if it was the left) except as a way of attempting to drag Chick-Fil-A into the same LGBTQ sewer as the previously mentioned companies so as to solicit a knee jerk reaction by conservatives that would lead to a boycott and financial harming the company. I do not think this will work. Actually I think the opposite will happen. I think it is more possible that LGBTQ folks some of whom are against God, Christianity, Catholic Church, etc. will probably be excited and buy chicken sandwiches which will be good for the company and the spread of Christian ethics. Part of Christian belief is to hate the sin and love the sinner. Christians have no problem serving chicken sandwiches to LGBTQ folks. And as long as LGBTQ folks are respectful in the stores and stay away from the advocacy while in the store, it should all go well for both and I encourage it to be so!

  3. larry Horist

    Tom … I think you are correct. The Chick-fil-A kerfuffle is nothing. I think some on the right got stampeded. It will calm down because the issue was misunderstood. I think the Bud, Target and Disney are more lasting hits by consumers. Chick-fil-A was about employment … not promoting a controversial issue to the public. I do not think Chick-fil-A will suffer at the cash register. And diversity operations in large corporations has been around since the 1960s — largely in response to Nixon’s Affirmative Action legislation. We had it at Sears and Motorola when I was there in the late 60s.

  4. frank stetson

    I do not spend much time checking the political or social agenda for things I consume. If it smacks me in the face, maybe, but I really don’t go out of my way to purchase politically. It’s a road that does not end well in that where does it end? Liberals can no longer feel safe living in Florida. Have to ask your neighbor their affiliation before you invite to the house party?

    Since when has diversity and inclusion become bad things? You don’t like gays but do you need to tear their clothing displays down? I can understand people not supporting this and that, but when did just being proper and polite get nasty? OK, so you don’t like trans and if Bud has a picture on a can, you can buy something else. So be it. But someone says “diversity” as you jump on em like they screamed “sieg hiel” with outstretched fist. You might even be more predisposed to protect the “sieg hiel-ster” as free speech while you tear down a display that says: “take pride” and sells rainbows as a social warrior for the right.

    White Supremacist Charlotte versus Target — think about it. Occupy Wall Street versus Trans Bud — think about it. Kyle Rittenhouse versus a family friendly drag show at Mary Burgers. BLM protests versus 1.6.2021 Republican rampage at Congress, What we hate versus what we love is getting quite twisted. What we accept is getting to be just wrong.

    And I really take exception to these ass-states that determine pension investments based on corporate social agendas. That’s just a administrative cost adder to determine that legal companies don’t pass some jerk’s feeling on certain, but not all, social agenda. The same state that will tie down a rape victim, force her to term and delivery of a rape baby, and then make her support it IS the same state that won’t invest in a top grade company because they are green. We talk about ESG investments in billions; we talk about all investments in trillions. It’s just bad business to add cost to determine whether any companies in the small slice of ESG companies versus spending that same cost just to determine profitable companies with sustainable growth to invest in. Stupid waste of time to spend money looking for needles in the haystack. Texas has a bunch of these prescriptive investment laws and regulations targeting green against black gold. These hypocrites also wrote the laws that make Texas the largest build-out of renewable energy sources in the nation. So they do PR stunts to pretend to protect oil while kissing renewable energies ass with tax incentives, loose zoning and environmental requirements while shushing up about their nefarious deeds.

    Chick-fil-A, IMO, just sucks because they don’t sell fried chicken, they sell sandwiches you can crank out of your microwave. Their “secret sauce” is mayo and BBQ sauce. And their bread is very white. I went once, expecting fried chicken, was disappointed and find Panera’s a better chicken sandwich if forced to fast food. And Panera’s delivers! The only downside is Panera does not have grilled, just breaded. But their cheeses, sauces, peppers, etc, are better and they have avocado!!!! Politics aside, one visit to CFA and never again. You can’t have “chic” in your name and not have fried, grilled, or some kind of chicken beyond nuggets and sandwiches.