I was asked by my employer to attend a March 28th webinar on customer service in local government, presented by the Alliance for Innovation. I was utterly horrified that one of the companies praised by the trainer as a model of excellent customer service was Chick-Fil-A.
Chick-fil-A is notorious for its support of discrimination against gay and lesbians, donating millions of dollars every year to anti-gay hate groups. Although the company has soft-pedaled its hateful rhetoric since last year's protests, its financial support of anti gay organizations remains strong, (see http://www.glaad.org/news/chick-fil-increases-donations-anti-gay-groups) and CEO Dan Cathy is unapologetic about continuing to support "traditional marriage" (he has also been sued by female employees for discriminating against unmarried women). Gay employees report a "culture of discrimination within the company" and describe it as "complicit in spreading a message of hate against gay people". (http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/19638293/former-chick-fil-a-employee-says-restaurant-has-become-a-place-to-hate)
No organization that discriminates, and promotes bigotry can ever be said to offer good customer service. Holding up Chick-fil-A as a model is insulting and demeaning to every LGTB person in the audience. If there was an organization on record as funding bigotry against women, or against African Americans or Muslims, who would even dream of citing them as a good customer service example?
I wrote to the Alliance for Innovation and asked the organization to issue an apology for its praise of Chick-fil-A as a customer service model. The President , Karen Thoreson, called me and apologized, "if I was offended" but refused to issue a general apology to all attendees, stating that although they agreed that choosing Chick-Fil-A was "inappropriate" they had received no other complaints. I pointed out that many gay and lesbian government employees might not feel comfortable coming forward to complain. These webinars were paid for by local government dollars, and in many cases, employees were required to attend. No one should be required to attend a program which promotes a discriminatory, hate-mongering organization.
The Alliance has admitted its error to me, so why won't they apologize to all their attendees? An email I received stated that "the political views of Chick-fil-A doesn't (sic) reflect the view of The Alliance or any of the presenters." If that is true, the Alliance should say so publicly. If you agree, please let the Alliance for Innovation know how you feel.
Alliance for Innovation
411 N. Central Ave. Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85004
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