I know. You're hopped up about the Chik-Fil-A thing, where the founder of the company said the Atlanta-based, high-end fast food retailer was "guilty as charged" related to financial support of organizations that among other things, promote marriage as being an institution that should be granted to a male/female combination only.
Which is viewed in many corners as homophobic and anti-gay. Which is why the mayors of Boston, New York and San Franciso all felt compelled to weigh in on the Chik-Fil-A stance. CFA has roots in the Southeast, and the Northeast and West Coast represent markets they'd like to expand to at some point.
Why not use this market-based controversy to teach your employees about freedom of speech and organizations?
Which is to say that freedom of speech is constitutionally protected. But that doesn't mean that people can't turn their backs on you.
My take to employees would be that yes, for the most part, you can say what you want. But, if saying what you want causes others around you to be unable to work with you, you might have to go find another job. That's just the way it is. Freedom of speech is important, but it doesn't mean you can say whatever you want. There are consequences. If you're going to be hard-core about any controversial issue in the workplace, you have to be prepared for the backlash.
Sometimes hard takes on issues are perceived as anti-someone. You can say it. But you might not be able to work here if that stance causes you to be unable to do your job. Just ask the Dixie Chicks, to complement the conservative stance of Chick-Fil-A with one considerable less conservative at the time.
Say what you want. We'll defend your righ to to that. You might just have to work someplace else.
But we can still be friends. And we might to have to eat somewhere else. Get it?
UPDATE - Lots of emails on this one, no comments. Who can blame my readers - this whole thing is toxic. Best email I've received is this one from "L":
"I was eager to catch your comments on Truett/Dan Cathy’s stance concerning traditional marriage. I left the article confused, predominantly based on the last line of the post. Are you encouraging people to avoid Chick-fil-A because of their stance on traditional marriage…?
The other part that was a little confusing was the apparent correlation of a company’s privilege to take a moral stand and a company employee commenting on a topic using “Freedom of Speech”. Those are two different and detached topics. Maybe your point was simply to use the topic as a springboard to open the conversation however the inference seems to slant somewhere else. Part of that may stem from the use of the term “Mess” in the headline. It seems to imply Chick-fil-A is wrong for what they see as their moral stance and they created a Mess rather than those who oppose them.
Freedom of Speech and marriage are two topics very dear to me and this article seemed to blur lines that don’t need to be blurry. My dad almost died defending them. I guess I’m not sure what you were trying to say or imply…?"
That's a pretty comprehensive rundown. Here's the non-cute version of how I feel... I like it when both people and companies take stands related to what they believe. But, on the people side, I think employees often confuse freedom of speech with protection from the fact that exercising it in a controversial manner may lead them so ineffective in their jobs moving forward that they may have to leave the company. Companies, like people, can take stands. When they do, the market decides, and right now CFA is under a lot of market pressure for sure. That's my connection on the issue between companies and individuals.
I'm not calling for a boycott at all. I'm a church-attending moderate republican who really struggles with all sides of this. We might have to eat somewhere else because so many people are divided on the Chick-fil-a thing. Lots of disagreement on this. I'll defend Chick-fil-a's right to make their opinion known to the end, but the market decides on this one globally - not me. And I, like so many others, have lost a loved one who fought for all the rights that this issue illustrates as well. Still, when it comes to commerce, the right is there, then the market decides. Interesting times for sure.