Chick-fil-A Faces Growing Backlash Over 'Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion' Efforts

Chick-fil-A Faces Growing Backlash Over 'Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion' Efforts
A view of Chick-fil-A on Austell Road as customers pull around for their drive-thru orders on March 18, 2020, in Austell, Ga. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Some conservatives have suggested a boycott of Chick-fil-A after the fast-food chain was discovered to have a vice president of "diversity, equity, [and] inclusion," or DEI.

In a previously issued Chick-fil-A statement, the company said Erick McReynolds serves as its vice president of DEI.

"Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well," the statement reads. "Modeling care for others starts in the restaurant, and we are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding, and dignity everywhere we do business.”

DEI is a set of principles that large corporations, government agencies, and schools have increasingly incorporated into their work environments, often mandating that employees receive such training. However, these principles are rooted in Marxism, according to prominent critics, including Christopher Rufo and James Lindsay, that are essentially vehicles for "left-wing racialist ideology and partisan political activism."

"They are designed to replace the system of academic merit with a system of race-based preferences and discrimination—which, in many cases, explicitly violates federal civil rights law," Rufo wrote for his Substack page earlier this year.

The Chick-fil-A announcement was highlighted this week by several prominent conservative accounts. According to McReynolds's LinkedIn page, he was hired as Chick-fil-A's vice president for "diversity, equity [and] inclusion" in late 2021.
"We have a problem," Joey Mannarino, a conservative host highlighting Chick-fil-A's prior announcement, wrote on Twitter on May 30. "Chick-Fil-A just hired a VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This is bad. Very bad. I don’t want to have to boycott. Are we going to have to boycott?

"The Left is going crazy again over the Chick-fil-A boycott that conservatives are considering. They’re mad because we’ve FINALLY gotten effective at boycotts. Any company that is pushing the trans stuff on our kids or the DEI stuff, we are going to pick the worst offenders."

Columnist Todd Starnes said on May 30: "So Chick-fil-A has a diversity, equity and inclusion division. Well, that explains the fried cauliflower sandwiches and kale salad."
By the afternoon of May 30, Lindsay wrote on Twitter that he agreed with the boycott calls and made demands.

"We must demand that Chick-fil-A fire their entire ESG and Sustainability staff and partners (including DEI)," he said, referring to the left-wing environmental, social, and governance framework.

"Ideally we get them to confess how they got caught up in the racket, and then we return support. Conservatives might actually be able to pull this one off."

The chicken-based fast-food chain has been generally well respected among conservatives because of the company's religious values and its prior support for religious groups. In the McReynolds DEI announcement, Chick-fil-A made reference to its corporate purpose, which is "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 into contact with Chick-fil-A."

Representatives for Chick-fil-A didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Backlash Growing

In recent weeks, a number of companies have faced backlash for embracing what critics say are left-wing values or a pro-LGBT agenda. Since early April, Bud Light has seen a significant backlash after it produced a beer can with transgender activist and influencer Dylan Mulvaney's face and as Mulvaney suggested a partnership with the brand.
A shopper wheels a cart through the parking lot after making a purchase at the Target store in Salem, N.H., on Feb. 27, 2023. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)
A shopper wheels a cart through the parking lot after making a purchase at the Target store in Salem, N.H., on Feb. 27, 2023. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)
Sales of Bud Light have dropped significantly year-over-year, with consumers opting to drink brands such as Coors or Miller in its place, according to data released by industry analysts. Data published by Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen IQ show that by the week ending on May 20, Bud Light sales declined by 29.5 percent year-over-year, while revenue is down by 25.7 percent.
The CEO of Anheuser-Busch has, on multiple occasions, said Bud Light didn't partner with Mulvaney, a man who identifies as a woman, and that only "one can" with Mulvaney's face was produced. Local distributors in some areas also released advertisements saying as much in a bid to lure back customers, while Bud Light has marketed several deals to move cases of beer.

Another major boycott was directed at Target after the company released a line of LGBT clothing for children—including onesies for infants—for its "pride collection," according to its website. Other companies, such as Kohl's and PetSmart, have similarly been criticized for selling similar products.

Last week, Target said in a statement that it would be moving its "pride" merchandise to other areas of the store. The company has seen its stock drop considerably since mid-May, falling another 3.5 percentage points on May 30.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work,” a statement from Target said last week. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

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