Chick–fil–A, the beloved fast–food chain whose popularity has soared since its first restaurant opened in Atlanta in 1967, is now facing a response from conservatives after the company announced its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
Chick-fil-A is infected with DEI and it will only be a matter of time before that place falls in every way possible. pic.twitter.com/0Lg6NWcu90
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) May 30, 2023
“One of our core values at Chick–fil–A, Inc. is that we are better together,” reads the company statement. “When we combine our unique backgrounds and experiences with a culture of belonging, we can discover new ways to strengthen the quality of care we deliver: to customers, to the communities we serve, and to the world. We understand that getting Better at Together means we learn better, care better, grow better, and serve better.”
The DEI initiative focuses on increasing equal access, valuing differences, and creating a culture of belonging. It details plans to recruit from diverse professional organizations, such as the Women‘s Foodservice Forum and the National Black MBA Association, and to engage with employee resource groups like Women in Business and Black Employee Resource Group.
However, the company‘s move away from its Christian roots has spurred an outcry from both religious and conservative figures. Executive director Wade Miller of the Citizens for Renewing America, an anti–“woke” organization, tweeted: “Everything good must come to an end. Here @ChickfilA is stating its commitment to systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination. I cannot support such a thing.”
The response comes following chairman Dan Cathy’s roundtable discussion in June 2020, at Passion City Church in Atlanta. Cathy discussed racism in America, which he stated that “until Caucasians are willing to pick up the baton and fight for Black Americans, we are shameful. We’re just adding to it.”
The statements and DEI efforts have caused confusion on social media. “Something tells me @ChickfilA is going to be called to repent soon,” one tweet reads. Another user predicts that “it will only be a matter of time before [the company] falls in every way possible.”
— James Lindsay, professional right-wing troll (@ConceptualJames) May 30, 2023
Though Chick–fil–A has committed to ceasing donations to organizations that oppose homosexual marriage, such as The Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, these efforts may have been too little, too late for many conservatives. They fear the company is slowly turning away from the ethos that made them so popular.
Marketing professor Joanna Schwartz of Georgia College & State University spoke to Newsweek about the situation. “It‘s a big change for Chick–fil–A to include gender identity and sexual orientation as part of their view of inclusivity, but even that DEI update doesn‘t actually use the term ‘LGBT‘ (or any of its variations),” she said.
Despite the boycotts and criticism, Chick–fil–A’s corporate purpose remains steadfast. “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick–fil–A,” stated the company site. Furthermore, it is still “solely responsible for all employment matters” within its franchises.
The company currently has over 170,000 team members, operators and staff at more than 2,700 locations in 47 states as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Canada. In 2019–20, the American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Chick–fil–A as the top restaurant brand in the U.S. for the sixth year in a row.