Discrimination: gay couple denied sale of a wedding cake
A same-sex couple from Oregon was planning their upcoming wedding and decided to purchase a cake from a local bakery. When one of them went cake testing with her mother, everything went along normally until the bakery owner discovered that it was a same-sex marriage. At that point, he declined to sell them a cake because his personal belief was that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. According to OregonLive.com, the couple has filed a discrimination complaint against the bakery.
Every professional decision has a list of pros and cons that accompany it. This business decision is no different, and perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar situation in which your company felt compelled to take a stance on an issue whether it was discrimination or not, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on same-sex marriage. It could be about anything, really. So, from a generalized, professional perspective, let’s look at the pros and cons of having a personal stance that is then reflected through your business:
Pros and cons of a business taking a position on any issue
Pros to taking a stance on an issue:
- You will attract those who have similar beliefs and stances. This means a more cohesive and like-minded clientele, which many business owners may find enticing.
- You’ll also get some support from the community. No matter what the belief is, chances are that there is a handful of people that feel the same way you do.
- As a small business owner, your business can be one more way to share your beliefs and to take a firm stand on an issue.
- Customers and your community know what to expect from you. It takes some of the surprise out of later decisions.
Cons to taking a stance on an issue:
- You will lose clientele and customers quickly because not all of them will agree with the decision you’ve made.
- You run the risk of being blacklisted in your community, and as a small, localized business, that could be enough to shut you down.
- Your business will be labeled accordingly, and that label is bound to stick for a while. Remember, news can travel quickly through word-of-mouth.
- No matter the issue, vocalizing and putting your personal beliefs on others—wherein it limits the options of others or makes them feel unworthy–can ostracize or humiliate someone or many people. And no business should have that goal.
One decision can change your business forever
Just as with every decision, it’s important to consider the positives and negatives. For some, the positives will outweigh the negatives. For others, the negative backlash is enough to keep them neutral on issues. The Oregon bakery will likely have a lawsuit or some type of action brought against them, pending an investigation, but that one decision could change their business forever, and there’s no turning back for them now.