Chick-fil-A company heir and then-COO Dan Cathy caused a media uproar when, in a 2012 interview, he emphasized the company's outspoken support of "traditional" family values. Detractors decried what seemed an anti-gay bias on the company's part, which was supported by Chick-fil-A's donations to groups such as Focus on the Family, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Exodus International, organizations traditionally opposed to LGBTQ interests and rights. Despite protests and boycotts against the company, Chick-fil-A's supporters remained strong and its sales surged.
This overview of Chick-fil-A and the controversy surrounding the company's stated beliefs raise important questions. How should one see Chick-fil-A using its religious mission and values to build a powerful brand connection with its key stakeholders? How should the company nurture that brand to strengthen itself moving forward? At the same time, what risks does the Chick-fil-A approach create, and what practices should the company avoid or even retool so as not to hurt or erode its business and the value it creates for stakeholders? More specifically, should Chick-fil-A take a stand (whether public or private) on matters like the family, same-sex relationships, and other politically charged issues?