Advice to Business Owners: Think Before You Speak
In American Express Open Forum Rieva Lesonsky wrote about Chick-fil-A president’s view on same sex unions. Dan Cathy first spoke of his anti-gay union in The Baptist Press and again, over radio where he reiterated his position. Although his comments are his personal opinion, gay rights groups and some customers sought to boycott his company, Chick-fil-A. Some politicians even rode with the issue by announcing their plans to ban the restaurant chain from their cities. Lesonsky says, ” Cathy is entitled to speak his mind; customers are entitled to protest, as well as to speak with their dollars by boycotting or supporting his business.” She further advices business owners: ” Whatever you (and sometimes your employees) say, whether in your business role or in your personal life, is going to reflect on your business. Before you speak, be aware that what you say can help or hurt your business.”
When his stance picked up steam in social media, Cathy was interviewed on a syndicated radio show, where he said: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
Bad Publicity Isn’t Good
Cathy was speaking as a private individual; and the company’s defenders point to Chick-fil-A’s anti-discrimination policy, which applies to both employees and customers. What really fanned the flames was when politicians in Chicago and Boston announced they planned to ban the chain from their cities.
Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee named August 1 Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, and customers taking a stance against same-sex marriage or for free speech packed the chain’s more than 1,600 locations.
But when cities start talking about banning businesses based on the owner’s personal beliefs, I think all small-business owners should be concerned.
Cathy is entitled to speak his mind; customers are entitled to protest, as well as to speak with their dollars by boycotting or supporting his business.
If there’s any lesson to draw, it’s this: The business world is more transparent than ever. Whatever you (and sometimes your employees) say, whether in your business role or in your personal life, is going to reflect on your business. Before you speak, be aware that what you say can help or hurt your business.
Ironically, in a time when most business owners are tweeting, posting and sharing at the speed of light in an effort to help grow their businesses, the best advice may be something your Mom likely told you when you were a kid: “Think before you speak.” I’m not saying you should hide your feelings, your beliefs or your values. But before you share them, you might want to take a moment and think about the possible repercussions …
Photo by fuddy2009