Why Chick-fil-A Is Drawing Fire Over a ‘Culture of Belonging’ (2023)


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The fast-food chain, once a darling of conservatives, has joined other corporations in pursuing diversity, equity and inclusion policies, prompting some on the right to accuse it of going “woke.”

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Why Chick-fil-A Is Drawing Fire Over a ‘Culture of Belonging’ (1)

By Jesus Jiménez

(Video) Chick-fil-A goes WOKE pushes DIVERSITY KIDS meals, PLEDGES to EMBED DIVERSITY in EVERYTHING they do!

Chick-fil-A drew fierce criticism this week from conservatives calling out the fast-food chain for its diversity, equity and inclusion policy and questioning the hiring of an executive to be in charge of such efforts.

The backlash has made Chick-fil-A one of the latest companies to draw public condemnation over “culture war” flash points like L.G.B.T.Q. rights or seeking fair treatment for racial or ethnic groups that have been historically underrepresented. Several companies and brands have also been at the center of such criticism in recent months, including Bud Light, Target and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chick-fil-A itself has drawn controversy in the past, though more typically from the left.

‘Chick-fil-A has gone woke’

This week, many conservatives have rebuked Chick-fil-A, pointing to a corporate policy on its website that details the company’s focus on “ensuring equal access,” “valuing differences,” and “creating a culture of belonging,” under the title, “Committed to being Better at Together.”

Critics also singled out the chain’s hiring of Erick McReynolds to head its D.E.I. efforts, but that is also not a new development.

Citing that policy, Wade Miller, an executive director for Center for Renewing America, a conservative think tank, said on Twitter that he could no longer support the company as a customer: “Everything good must come to an end.”

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who was implicated in former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, said on Twitter that Chick-fil-A’s policy was “disappointing.”

“Chick-fil-A has gone woke,” wrote Ian Miles Cheong, a right-wing critic with 625,000 Twitter followers. The conservative commentator Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA shared a similar sentiment with his 2.2 million followers.

It was unclear why Chick-fil-A was only drawing criticism now for its D.E.I. efforts, since the company has long had such a policy in place. As for Mr. McReynolds, company records show that he had been the company’s vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion since at least 2020.

The chain, known for its fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, declined to comment on Wednesday.

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Chick-fil-A has faced past ‘social justice’ controversies.

Chick-fil-A has been in the spotlight in the past over matters of inclusion, but for different reasons and from a different direction.

Chick-fil-A was a founded by S. Truett Cathy, a religious man who wanted to have his business closed on Sundays so that his workers could rest and worship if they wanted to do so. The company, which says its corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” had aligned itself with conservative causes by donating to groups that tried to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.

In 2012, its president and chief operating officer spoke in favor of traditional marriage, inviting protests from advocates for same-sex marriage. The company had also been criticized for closing on Sundays because of religious beliefs.

Under pressure, the company later stopped almost all donations to organizations that opposed equal rights for people of different sexual orientation.

The chicken chain was criticized again in 2019 for making charitable donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two groups that had been criticized by L.G.B.T.Q. advocates. The company then stopped making donations to those groups.

What exactly is a D.E.I. policy?

Corporate companies have had policies that promote diversity, equity and inclusion in some form for decades, largely to avoid discrimination on the basis of race, sex or religion. In recent years, these policies have increasingly been gathered under the acronym D.E.I.

Ivuoma Onyeador, a Northwestern University professor whose research examines how people understand discrimination and disparities, said that companies have D.E.I. policies to ensure that “their employees and customers and clients from marginalized backgrounds are having the same experience as employees, customers and clients from dominant groups or well-represented backgrounds.”

Those policies “signal to employees from marginalized backgrounds, or racial minorities, that the companies care about their experiences,” Dr. Onyeador said. “That’s the benefit of having these programs.”

Stephanie Creary, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania whose research focuses on inclusion in the workplace, said that D.E.I. efforts have traditionally focused on issues such as anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, mentoring and sponsorship programs.

Over the years, Dr. Creary said that “D.E.I. practices have become broader in scope, particularly in terms of the dimensions of difference on which they focus, including religious values.”

Chick-fil-A strengthened its policies after the George Floyd protests.

Experts said that D.E.I. efforts were bolstered after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the police in 2020 spurred nationwide protests calling for social justice and police accountability.

“The Floyd moment felt like a shift,” Dr. Onyeador said. “The 2020 moment, the Black Lives Matter moment over the last decade, has brought lots of these discussions to the forefront in a particularly unique way.”

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Alvin Tillery, the director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern, said that protests in the summer of 2020 revealed to corporations that many of their workers, especially younger ones, were “aggressively committed to racial justice.”

“The corporate diversity programs shifted from these kind of benign discussions of recruiting and nonconscious bias to an active discussion of accountability for antiracism and gender equity,” Dr. Tillery said.

In an internal report, Chick-fil-A said that in 2020 the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts “took on special significance for us as we proactively pursued new ways to work against racism, systemic or subtle, throughout the communities we serve.”

The report, which does not explicitly refer to the social justice protests from that year, said that the company held dozens of listening sessions “to better understand and address racial injustice.”

Those efforts informed the company’s plans “to address racial injustice,” the report said.

Corporations are now caught in the political crossfire.

Corporations in the United States have to follow federal laws — such astheCivil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 — that make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex or a disability.

Dr. Tillery said that many companies have D.E.I. policies to avoid the potential consequences of discriminatory practices.

“If companies don’t want to face lawsuits, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints, it makes sense for them to have equity policies to make sure that there are no racial gaps,” Dr. Tillery said.

Some companies also see D.E.I. as part of a moral commitment to justice and higher ideals. Dr. Onyeador added that many see a “business case for diversity..”

She described that as “the idea that being a more diverse company, or having a more inclusive climate, increases performance outcome for a company.”

This has put companies like Chick-fil-A at odds with some customers. It has also led to a political backlash among Republicans seeking to appeal to conservative voters. In Florida, for example, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president, recently signed legislation defunding diversity programs at the state’s public universities and colleges.

Dr. Onyeador said that she believes conservatives have conflated increased D.E.I. efforts with support for other social justice efforts, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Because they’re against D.E.I. policies or ‘wokeism,’” Ms. Onyeador said, “they’re struggling with the connection between Chick-fil-A, as a company that they see as on their side, that is also engaging in this other work.”

Jesus Jiménez is a general assignment reporter. @jesus_jimz

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What is Chick-fil-A culture? ›

"To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." To live out our Purpose and honor Truett's legacy, we are focused on creating a culture of care, both at the Support Center and in our restaurants.

What are the 5 core values of Chick-fil-A? ›

Our culture is built on a belief that leadership is not defined by titles or uniforms but by character, integrity, discipline, heart, and grit. Our leaders are defined by how they Care for Team Members, Guests, and the community they serve.

What are four reasons to work at Chick-fil-A? ›

Either way, our restaurant team members reveal seven reasons why they think it's awesome to work at Chick-fil-A.
  • You learn leadership and management skills. ...
  • You can earn a college scholarship. ...
  • You're off work every Sunday. ...
  • The food. ...
  • You'll make lifelong friendships. ...
  • Celebs love it, too!
Sep 19, 2016

What is Chick-fil-A's motto? ›

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

What is Chick-fil-A weakness? ›

Chick-fil-A's strengths include its strong brand recognition, loyal customer base, and high-quality menu items. Its weaknesses include its limited menu options and lack of international presence. The chain has numerous opportunities for growth, such as expanding its menu and increasing its online presence.

What is Chick-fil-A symbol of success? ›

The Symbol of Success Award is the highest honor a Chick-fil-A franchise can achieve. It is an award for being one of the top Chick-fil-A's in the chain for sales growth year over year.

What is Chick-fil-A short summary? ›

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. is a family owned and privately held restaurant company founded in 1964 by S. Truett Cathy. Devoted to serving the local communities in which its franchised restaurants operate, and known for its original chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A serves freshly prepared food.

What are Chick-fil-A interview questions? ›

Interview questions at Chick-fil-A
  • Why you want to work for them what your availability times was and what jobs you're comfortable doing. Shared on February 8, 2023 - Chick-Fil-A Team Member - Paducah, KY.
  • What is customer service to you? Experience? ...
  • What do I like to do for fun.

What are Chick-fil-A 4 core values? ›

Our core values are:
  • We're here to serve. We keep the needs of Operators, their Team Members and customers at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them.
  • We're better together. ...
  • We are purpose-driven. ...
  • We pursue what's next.

Why should we hire you? ›

“I should be hired for this role because of my relevant skills, experience, and passion for the industry. I've researched the company and can add value to its growth. My positive attitude, work ethics, and long-term goals align with the job requirements, making me a committed and valuable asset to the company.”

What is Chick-fil-A secret saying? ›

If you're a regular at Chick-fil-A, you've probably picked up on this one, but when you say "thank you" to any of the employees, you won't get "you're welcome," "no problem," or "sure thing" in response—they'll say "my pleasure." Founder Truett Cathy apparently noticed employees at a Ritz-Carlton saying the phrase to ...

What are the 3 C's of Chick-fil-A? ›

Chick-fil-A's proven talent selection process focuses on three C's: character, competency, and chemistry.

What does heart stand for in Chick-fil-A? ›

HEARD is an acronym for: Hear to understand. Empathize to feel their concern. Apologize with, "I'm sorry." Resolve the issue.

Why do Chick-fil-A employees stand outside? ›

The people taking orders outside have a purpose

“During our peak hours, we have a couple of team members go outside and take orders. This actually allows us to take more orders because we're able to walk up to the cars once we're finished with the last order so y'all can get your food faster!”

What are Chick-fil-A strengths? ›

Strengths. Brand reputation: Chick-fil-A has built a strong brand reputation for high-quality food and exceptional customer service. This reputation has generated customer loyalty and helped the company stand out in a competitive fast-food market.

What is Chick-fil-A mostly known for? ›

In 2021, the famous Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich reclaimed the number one spot as the most popular entrée on the menu, surprisingly outranking Chick-fil-A® Nuggets after their years-long reign at the top of the list.

What does Chick-fil-A look for in an owner? ›

Before you start the process, you may wonder exactly what Chick-fil-A is looking for in a franchise operator. The company wants strong leaders with a track record in running a company or successfully leading a team. They're looking for candidates who show that they are both results oriented and self-starters.

Why are Chick-fil-A employees happy? ›

Chick-Fil-A employees are so happy for a few reasons, such as individual personality, company culture, and job requirements. When hiring, Chick-fil-a looks for individuals who have outstanding customer service skills and are pleasant and happy individuals.

Why do you want to work at Chick-fil-A best answer? ›

SUGGESTED ANSWER: “I am hard-working, customer-focused and great at working as part of a team. Before applying for this job, I read up on the job description and the duties I will have responsibility for whilst working here at Chick-fil-A.

What personality traits does Chick-fil-A have? ›

In a Zion & Zion study ranking 26 major QSR chains on brand personality, Chick-fil-A ranked the highest on sincerity, excitement and competence. The study also tested for two additional personality dimensions: sophistication and ruggedness. ​ Chick-fil-A also ranked second in sophistication.

Why do people love Chick-fil-A? ›

So, what is it about Chick-fil-A that people love? It could be a number of things, including its dedication to food safety and quality. The brand says it has fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to its restaurants up to six days per week and has rigorous standards for its famous chicken.

Why do I want to be hired? ›

Your skills and qualifications. If you can prove that you've got all the skills that the company is looking for in a candidate, you'll have effectively answered the question. Your passion and motivation. You can highlight how good of a company fit you'd be and how much you love working in your field or industry.

How do you respond to why should I hire you? ›

Tips to Improve Your Answer to “Why Should We Hire You?”
  1. Respond with clarity and confidence that you're a great fit.
  2. Never undermine your lack of experience.
  3. Always show what you feel makes you unique.
  4. Incorporate examples from previous jobs and how they relate to the key qualifications.

What makes you a good fit for our team? ›

You need to highlight why you're the best match for the role by explaining the accomplishments, skills, or personality traits that set you apart. However, don't criticize other candidates while you do so. Maintain a positive tone and keep the response focused on what you can offer, rather than what others can't.

What qualities does Chick-fil-A look for in an employee? ›

We are looking for friendly, enthusiastic people who enjoy serving customers. We will teach you everything else you need to know! Successful Team Members will conduct themselves in a positive attitude and truthful character demonstrating 2nd mile service to every guest who visits our restaurant.

What are your top 4 core values? ›

What Are The 4 Core Values Of An Organization? The four core values of an organization are integrity and ethics, respect, innovation (not imitation), and drive.

What does Chick-fil-A look for in an employee? ›

A company dedicated to customer care, Chick-fil-A hires applicants willing to provide outstanding service. Prospects should display polite, enthusiastic, and professional demeanors. No matter the question asked, applicants must provide positive, result-oriented responses.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

Taking steps to manage stress
  1. Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. ...
  2. Develop healthy responses. ...
  3. Establish boundaries. ...
  4. Take time to recharge. ...
  5. Learn how to relax. ...
  6. Talk to your supervisor. ...
  7. Get some support.
Jul 1, 2014

What's your greatest weakness? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

What does Chick-fil-A say instead of thank you? ›

He once called it a “head-turner,” according to the company. So he asked Chick-fil-A managers and staff to start saying “my pleasure” when customers thanked them, but many were initially hesitant, according to Robinson.

What do Chick-fil-A employees say instead of you're welcome? ›

In a 2016 study by research firm QSR, Chick-fil-A's employees overwhelming said "please" and "thank you" at a higher rate than their competitors. But one thing those employees don't say: You're welcome. Instead they say, "It's my pleasure." Why? Because it's simply more polite, and it shows gratitude to the customer.

Why is Chick-fil-A red? ›

Each Chick-fil-A One Member is assigned to a membership tier based on the number of points they receive: Chick-fil-A One Member. Chick-fil-A One Silver Status (achieved upon earning 1,000 points in a year) Chick-fil-A One Red Status (achieved upon earning 4,000 points in a year)

What skills do you need to be a Chick-fil-A team member? ›

Team Member - Part Time or Full Time
  • Customer service oriented.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Ability to lift 20-30 pounds on a regular basis.
  • Standing, lifting, and bending required.
  • 16+ years of age.
  • Ability to multitask.
  • Work well in a team environment.
  • Servant spirit and positive attitude.

Who are Chick-fil-A Top 3 competitors? ›

Chick-fil-A main competitors are Zax LLC, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Jack in the Box. Competitor Summary. See how Chick-fil-A compares to its main competitors: KFC has the most employees (820,000).

How many interviews does Chick-fil-A give? ›

In addition to having your credit checked, you'll be asked to participate in a recorded interview, an initial screening interview, and at least three more comprehensive interviews.

What is a Chick-fil-A employee called? ›

Team Member. Focused on giving each customer a great experience, restaurant Team Members can offer service and hospitality everywhere in the restaurant, including front and back of house and in the drive-thru.

What is the highest member at Chick-fil-A? ›

Chick-fil-A One® has four membership tiers: Chick-fil-A One Member, Chick-fil-A One Silver Member, Chick-fil-A One Red Member, and Chick-fil-A One Signature Member.

What are the four core values of Chick-fil-A? ›

Our core values are: We're here to serve. We keep the needs of Operators, their Team Members and customers at the heart of our work, doing what is best for the business and best for them. We're better together.

What does Chick-fil-A symbolize? ›

When we first opened our doors in 1967, our founder Truett Cathy wanted the company's name to reflect the top quality customers should expect each time they visited a restaurant. That's why he chose Chick-fil-A: “Chick” to represent our signature menu item, and “fil-A” as a play on the word “filet,” with a small twist.

Why are Chick-fil-A employees so friendly? ›

Chick-Fil-A employees are so happy for a few reasons, such as individual personality, company culture, and job requirements. When hiring, Chick-fil-a looks for individuals who have outstanding customer service skills and are pleasant and happy individuals.

What is one fact about Chick-fil-A? ›

Chick-fil-A's founder popularized the chicken sandwich.

In 1964, while at The Dwarf House, Cathy was approached by a local poultry supplier who'd produced too many chicken breasts. Taking the extra supply, Cathy came up with a fast-food cooking method to offer his lunch patrons a new option: the chicken sandwich.

What is Chick-fil-A passionate about? ›

Through composting and other ways of reducing food waste, Chick-fil-A continues to live out its commitment to care for our planet. To learn more about this and other CSR efforts, visit our Giving Back page.

Why can't Chick-fil-A employees say thank you? ›

In a 2016 study by research firm QSR, Chick-fil-A's employees overwhelming said "please" and "thank you" at a higher rate than their competitors. But one thing those employees don't say: You're welcome. Instead they say, "It's my pleasure." Why? Because it's simply more polite, and it shows gratitude to the customer.

Are Chick-fil-A employees treated well? ›

Yes, they do. Chick-fil-a puts employees first. They close on Sundays so employees have a day with their family. Insurance fully paid by Chick-fil-a.


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