Dan Cathy has a lot to learn from Bill Marriott.
Cathy, the president and COO of Chick-fil-A, ignited a firestorm after speaking critically on the subject of gay marriage during an appearance on “The Ken Coleman Show.”
“I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” he said. “I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
He later added that the company his father created and the one he now runs is “very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”
The remarks sparked a wave of criticism from LGBT advocacy groups, which in turn sparked a wave of support from the conservative base. The frenzy came to a hilt Wednesday when an influx of customers and detractors visited their local Chick-fil-A restaurants during an “appreciation day” that saw bottlenecked parking lots, lines out the door—and protestors.
In a fantastic article, BloombergBusinessweek’s Diane Brady contrasts Cathy’s beliefs-on-his-sleeve approach to that of an equally devout but far less confrontational Bill Marriott.
The executive chairman of Marriott International and one of the most prominent Mormons in the country largely has escaped controversy by separating his religious beliefs from his company. During the vitriolic debates over California’s now-overturned ban on gay marriage during 2008, for example, Marriott did not join his church in supporting the ban—this despite his personal beliefs that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Instead, Marriott stepped into the fray by publicly reinforcing the hotel giant’s commitment to gay rights through domestic partnerships and services aimed at gay couples. Marriott International has been very outspoken with this aim, having earlier this year refreshed its website for the LGBT traveler.
Cathy, conversely, has been openly critical of gay rights on several occasions. And Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, WinShape, has donated millions to “anti-gay” groups.
(It should be acknowledged that the company also has issued a statement asserting its commitment to treat “every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” That the statement is on the company’s Facebook page and emerged only after Cathy’s most recent controversial comments highlights Chick-fil-A’s flawed, reactionary stance to the topic—especially when compared to Marriott International’s more proactive, forward-thinking approach.)
In her article, Brady cites Marriott as saying:
“We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else. We are an American Church. We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect.”
That level of understanding—which displays both an appreciation for the values of others in addition to a deep responsibility as a business leader—seems lost on Chick-fil-A’s Cathy.
The difference is in how each man lives his faith. Marriott lives it in his own life. Cathy lives it through his company—and his company will reap the outcome, good or bad, as a result.
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week
8.1%: Increase in global business travel spend during 2013 compared to 2012, as forecast by the Global Business Travel Association. The association forecasts a 4.6% increase this year to $1.1 trillion. Here’s hoping hoteliers get their fair share.
Quote of the week
“It’s going to be really, really hard for business travelers to get a room, and the hoteliers are going to take advantage of that. It’s a seller’s market.”
—STR’s Jan Freitag discussing the outlook for corporate travel in “Corporate travel outlook positive for hotels.”
I spoke with a lot of people for my special report on corporate travel, and by and large the message is good. Most sources said hoteliers will be able to push rates during the upcoming round of corporate negotiations—although travel buyers are expecting more value-adds along the way.
Comment of the week
“We will continue to have Geopolitical problems. That's part of the never ending game of power and money. Our world is based on those principles. The media will continue to amplify those events. But families, couples and singles will continue to travel, will need accommodations, leisure, food...they will choose the adequate geographical location. Growth is there and it is demonstrated by the forecast of the Global Tourism Council (3 to 5% growth).”
—Commenter “phatham” downplaying the gloomy outlook on display in Joel Ross’ most recent column, “Things are not as rosy as they seem.”
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
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