When Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy told a reporter that he supported the “biblical definition of the marriage unit,” it was a shot heard ’round the world. In addition to the reactions from activist groups and non-activist consumers, corporations large and small have jumped into the fray by showing their support of marriage equality. But will such demonstrations hurt their bottom line?
Good politics or bad business?
Value-focused consumerism is not a new concept. Environmentally conscious consumers drove the proliferation of natural and organic products. Socially responsible investors actively search for stocks that meet their screening qualifications. A company’s policies, lobbying activities, and conservative or liberal leanings, once made public, are all fair game for customers and investors who care about such things. (And some don’t.)
In the days following the Chick-fil-A episode, Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife pledged $2.5 million toward the fight to legalize gay marriage in Washington state. General Mills (NYS: GIS) CEO Ken Powell has publicly stated the company is against a gay marriage ban up for vote in Minnesota, saying the ban is not in the best interests of the company’s employees or Minnesota’s economy. And Target, (NYS: TGT) , which from the earliest days has positioned itself as a community-focused chain, has launched a series of ads welcoming same-sex couples to the company’s wedding registry.