In case you needed further evidence that anti-gay statements are no longer good business on the national level, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy—the loudest of the corporate voices on the topic in years past—now says he’s done talking about it.
In an extended interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week, Cathy said he “regrets” turning his company into a corporate spokesperson on social policy:
“I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”
His personal feelings on the matter have not changed, but:
“The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues.
…it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”
He might just be onto something.
Despite Cathy’s willingness to wade into the political swamp in 2012, the company has since taken steps to extricate itself to some degree by, for example, sharply reducing its yearly donations to advocacy groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
As Cathy tells the AJC, big-name food companies must now worry about issues more directly related to their core business—issues like the public’s increasing demand for more information about the products it consumes. He also wants to expand the chain into areas far less receptive to his personal thoughts on cultural issues. Lest you think him too old school, he says that he stays on top of digital trends by “…[encouraging] corporate leaders to download an app a day on their smart phones.”
While he expects people who disagree with him to respect his opinion, Cathy also declined to comment on the current spate of stories regarding lawsuits filed by gay Americans against businesses that refused to serve them, saying:
“…the wiser thing for us to do is to stay focused on customer service.”
We’ll call it a trend, then.