By now, many of you have heard the news that medical device manufacturer and supplier Vante fired its chief financial officer for berating a Chick-fil-A employee because she worked at a “horrible corporation” with “horrible values.”
Adam Smith, a self-declared heterosexual, filmed himself going through a Chick-fil-A drive-thru harassing a female employee for its President Dan Cathy’s well-publicized antigay stance.
Of course, bullying someone for working at a corporation whose president has values that employee may or may not agree with is eminently foolish. Such rude behavior coming from a senior executive and corporate officer is deeply disgraceful.
Vante was well within its rights to fire Smith. Yet, at the same time, in deliberately eschewing taking sides in the larger gay marriage debate, the company lost a real opportunity to be on the right side of history. Unlike St. Jude Medical. Unlike General Mills.
Here’s the statement Vante, which suddenly found it itself under a harsh spotlight, issued last week when the video that Smith uploaded went viral.
Vante regrets the unfortunate events that transpired yesterday in Tucson between our former CFO/Treasurer Adam Smith and an employee at Chick-fil-A. Effective immediately, Mr. Smith is no longer an employee of our company.
The actions of Mr. Smith do not reflect our corporate values in any manner. Vante is an equal opportunity company with a diverse workforce, which holds diverse opinions. We respect the right of our employees and all Americans to hold and express their personal opinions, however, we also expect our company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others.
We hope that the general population does not hold Mr. Smith’s actions against Vante and its employees.
What the company could have said was that it was firing the CFO for his shameful behavior that does not reflect what Vante stands for. And it could have also stood up for gay rights.
Instead, Vante hid behind phrases like “equal opportunity” and “diverse opinions” to skirt the issue.
Contrast this with the position of medical device firm St. Jude Medical and foods company General Mills. These two Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota have formally declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November. If passed, that state will define marriage as only between a man and a woman, although it could conceivable allow same-sex civil unions. In opposing this effort to ban gay marriage in the state, St. Jude Medical, which has been offering healthcare benefits to same-sex partners since 2005, issued the following statement:
As a policy, the Company does not provide financial support to state campaigns. However, we do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of economic and jobs growth in Minnesota. We believe that it is important for the state to be viewed as inclusive in order to recruit and retain the best talent.
Everyone who is reasonable sees the writing on the wall. Same-sex marriage will be a reality in the near future. Opposing it on religious or other grounds will seem as ludicrous then as opposing interracial marriage would be today. As ludicrous and as illegal as not hiring someone of a different religion because you are following “biblical principles.”
Knowing all this, it’s too bad that businesses like Vante, even when handed the opportunity, could not take a leadership role in creating a more equal society. Which by the way, as St. Jude Medical points out, is also a smart business decision.
[Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net]