What the world needs is another Hobby Lobby hand-wringing blog post. If you read some of my other posts you can probably guess what my ‘opinion’ is on the matter. Discussing the merits of either side of the case isn’t where I want to go with this post. Even if you think you disagree with me, please keep reading because I have a point to make that I think is fair regardless of your position on this specific case.
The society places a lot of emphasis on the need for business people to be ethical. Ethics is taught in business school. News reports complain about the lack of ethics in business people. The thing about ethics and morality is that it is divisive. In the case of Hobby-Lobby, the CEO has very specific morals. You may or may not agree with his position but I hope you agree that he does have a position and he made a call based on what he honestly thinks is correct.
After the fact, when a company makes an immoral decision, the media causes an an uproar. “The CEO should be arrested! It doesn’t matter if what the CEO did was not against the letter of the law, he should have done what was right regardless.” Congressmen rush to subpoena people and make bold statements to the nearest television cameras.
However, when a CEO or leader states moral beliefs, when it runs counter to the popular culture, he gets vilified. It is very difficult to ask someone to make morally hard stands when the reward for those hard stands is what happened to Hobby Lobby, Chick Filet, Mozilla, etc.
You might argue that ‘companies aren’t people’ and they shouldn’t even be involved in this. That’s an interesting argument, but usually is only made when people disagree with the position the company staked out. During the same Hobby-Lobby reporting cycle, Apple and Starbucks took public stands on different controversial public policy issues that just happen to be popular with vocal activists. Why is it right for Apple and Starbucks to take a moral stand but not Hobby Lobby?
I find Apple and Starbuck’s stand wrong and destructive to our country. However, I don’t see a problem with those companies making a stand. It is the organizations’ right to make such a stand. You might disagree with Hobby-Lobby’s stand, or Apple’s stand, but it is its right to make that stand.
But… but… but… ‘it’s health care’. I can solve the health care crisis. But probably not in this blog post. The road I’d travel on to answer the ‘but its health care’ is that no one is prohibiting people from obtaining health care. Hobby Lobby isn’t firing people over this, they just don’t want to provide that particular benefit because they find it morally wrong. If you disagree with my solution, fine, I’m not trying to argue health care.
I’m not trying to create a crazy provocative post. My main point is, if we want business leaders that make moral decisions, some of those decisions will be contrary to what you believe. If we constantly shut down the likes of Hobby-Lobby and Chick-Filet, we will end up with amoral organizations that only attempt to get in front of a parade, instead of staking out real positions.
Thanks, I hope I was fair in my points.