Chick-fil-A exec talks values with Fort Smith audience

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 225 views 

Chick-fil-A was “falsely accused of hating the LGBT movement,” according to Larry Cox, senior director of International and Operational Services for Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation.

The remark, directed on Thursday (Dec. 13) to audience members of the 360 Leadership Series at Phoenix Expo Center in Fort Smith, was used as part of an illustration on values.

Referencing an incident that happened in July 2012 when Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, voiced his support of “traditional marriage,” Cox said of the allegations, “We didn’t say that. Dan Cathy expressed a personal statement saying that he supports the biblical principles of marriage. That was the statement. It has been turned around.”

Cox brought up the topic while discussing leadership principles.

Cathy responded in July to opposition of the company’s support for traditional marriage, telling the Biblical Recorder, “Well, guilty as charged.”

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy said.

On Thursday Cox used the incident as a lead-in to describing Chick-fil-A’s issues in Chicago, where the company was criticized by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who stated shortly after the incident that Chick-fil-A’s values “are not Chicago’s values.”

“Anyhow Chicago’s one of our newest markets, and the Mayor of Chicago has recently asked Louis Farrakhan and his organization to come and help patrol the streets of Chicago at night because the crime rate is so bad there,” Cox explained.

“Right after all this mess happened back in August with Chick-fil-A and many of you showed your support — which we appreciate very much — there was a political cartoon in one of the daily papers in Chicago that had the Mayor of Chicago standing there and Louis Farrakhan standing there, and Louis Farrakhan had on two buttons. One of them said, ‘I hate Jews’ and the other one had ‘I’m a Nazi‘ — this is a political cartoon, I’m just quoting — and they were pointing their finger at a Chick-fil-A cow saying, ‘Chicago doesn’t want your values.’”

Cox said “a number of friends in Chicago” placed calls to Emanuel after this outreach to Farrakhan — who has been accused of anti-semitism and once told a Chicago radio station that Adolf Hitler was “a great man” — and asked, “So what are the values of Chicago?”

“Interesting isn’t it? Everybody has values. That’s my point. So you have to look at your values, and are your values worth communicating to your people and your public, clients and customers,” Cox said.

On the topic of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which took place Aug. 1 and resulted in what Cathy described as a “record-setting day” for the company, Cox credited former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for organizing and said the company “had nothing to do with it,” adding that Huckabee “did not reach out to us” until after the event.

Cox added that the “top-performing store that day was in Chicago.”