images-59Why would three extraordinarily successful business executives go out of their way to purposely antagonize significant segments of their target audience?

I ask because all three were in the news this week, albeit for altogether different reasons.

Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s incendiary comments about IVF and gay parents  sparked a worldwide backlash that included the likes of Sir Elton John, Ricky Martin and Courtney Love. All three called for a D&G boycott and vowed never to wear the label again. That cannot be good for business.

Separately, Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy announced plans to open the fast food chain’s largest free-standing store right in the heart of New York City, arguably America’s most liberal city.

In case you don’t know, Cathy is notorious for his very public comments supporting traditional marriage. As might be expected, Cathy’s statements provoked nationwide boycotts and protests from the gay, lesbian and transgender communities as well as liberals everywhere.

I’ll bet my last wishbone that his new Manhattan store will prompt a whole new round of demonstrations when it opens. It’s the fast food equivalent of Daniel entering the lion’s den.

All of which prompts one fundamental question: why? Why mix one’s personal views and morals with business? Why go out of one’s way to alienate thousands, if not millions, of potential customers? It makes no sense whatsoever.

In my opinion, a business executive should limit his or her views to family and friends. Period.

D&G and Chick-fil-A will obviously continue to survive, if not prosper, despite their owners’ explosive (and unnecessary) comments.

But, what if the owner of a smaller, less well-known business chooses to air her views about, say, right-to-life? Such comments could very well kill her business. And that would be so unfortunate and so unnecessary.

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