HRC Blog

Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay: Bad for Business

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

Since Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy made his anti-LGBT remarks two weeks ago, the fast food chain’s image with consumers has plummeted. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, Chick-fil-A’s perception with consumers dropped from a 65 prior to Cathy’s remarks – nearly 20 points above the national average for other fast food chains – to a 39.

Chick-fil-A’s brand suffered particularly in the South, where the chain’s rating with consumers has dropped from an 80 to a 44 since Cathy’s anti-LGBT remarks. Chick-fil-A has a strong foothold throughout the South, particularly Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina – but the sheer number of stores couldn’t protect it from the consumer backlash.

The fast food chain also is seeing its image plummet in the Northeast, where its rating has dropped from a 76 to a 35.

BrandIndex conducts regular surveys with consumers and measures a company’s public image based on quality, satisfaction, reputation, value, general impression, and willingness to recommend.

There also is solid data indicating that being anti-LGBT is simply bad for business. Several profile high-profile examples from this year illustrate that embracing equality benefits a company’s public image:

  • When Nabisco’s Oreo brand released a famous image of a rainbow cookie to commemorate LGBT Pride in June, positive perception of the company among 18-34 year olds skyrocketed, increasing 15 percentage points.
  • Moms with kids stepped up their support for J.C. Penney’s on two occasions, when the anti-LGBT group One Million Moms criticized the clothing store first for naming Ellen DeGeneres as their spokeswoman, and later when they included a picture of two lesbian moms in their Mother’s Day catalogue. In both instances, support among moms with kids jumped as One Million Moms launched anti-equality attacks on the company.

Source: YouGov’s BrandIndex

It’s not hard to see why Chick-fil-A’s brand is suffering as they proudly embrace their anti-LGBT practices. They are outliers in a landscape where the majority of businesses have made historic strides in embracing equality:

  • 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies protect employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies protect employees on the basis of gender identity.
  • Since 2002, the number of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic partner benefits climbed 76 percent.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that the LGBT community wields a buying power of nearly $800 billion.

During a decade of remarkable progress in the business community, Chick-fil-A has remained firmly planted in the past. As a result, there are now tangible declines in Chick-fil-A’s public perception that will likely impact the company’s bottom line. Learn more about Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT donations and view HRC's pledge.

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