Chick-fil-A, a well-known fast-food chain known for its conservative stance, has unexpectedly become a target of right-wing criticism over its efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
This recent backlash is part of a larger trend where companies engaging in “woke marketing” are being chastised by right-wing media and conservative voices on social platforms.
Right-wing political commentator Joey Mannarino, in a series of tweets, including a transphobic comment, questioned whether people would boycott the chain after the company expressed its commitment to becoming better together and emphasizes its founder’s belief in being a caring company. Soon after, far-right figures like Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA and Ian Miles Cheong joined in.
The focus of their criticism was Erick McReynolds, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of DEI, who has held the position for approximately three years.
Chick-fil-A has long been associated with conservative values, including closing its restaurants on Sundays for religious reasons. In the past, the company had donated to anti-LGBTQ organizations, although it reversed this decision in 2019. In 2012, the former president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, publicly expressed opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The company’s DEI page on its website references God, stating that Chick-fil-A’s purpose is to glorify God and positively influence everyone who encounters the brand. These deep Christian roots are evident in their approach to DEI.
Not an Isolated Incident:
Chick-fil-A’s experience is not unique, as other companies, Chick-fil-A joins other companies, including Target and Bud Light, in facing conservative backlash over what some perceive as “woke” marketing after sponsoring a social media post featuring trans personality Dylan Mulvaney.
Target also received homophobic attacks for selling pride merchandise, resulting in threats to employees and damage to products and displays. Target ultimately removed certain items to prioritize employee safety.
The success of boycott efforts targeting Chick-fil-A remains uncertain since the company does not regularly disclose sales data as a privately held business. However, the goal of these campaigns is to harm brands’ sales and reputations, as right-wing commentators aim to make embracing diversity and inclusion a costly decision for companies.
“The goal is to make ‘pride’ toxic for brands,” tweeted right-wing commentator Matt Walsh tweeted.
These incidents occur against the backdrop of a record number of anti-LGBT bills and escalating political attacks on transgender individuals by leading Republican presidential candidates.