Should a Christian business leader be more public about his/her worldview?
Recently, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., announced that he is “proud to be gay.” This makes him the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Explaining his decision to announce his sexual orientation publicly in Businessweek, he said, “I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.”
Cook went on to say, “We’ll continue to fight for our values.”
Notice that Cook said, “our values.” Not only is fighting for gay rights a high priority on Cook’s personal agenda, it is also part of his company’s corporate agenda. Apple has fought to legalize homosexual marriage in multiple states.
This article is not about Tim Cook’s sexual orientation. It’s about the cultural impact of a Fortune 500 company unequivocally telling the world that it is marketing more than mere physical products and services.
Through Tim Cook, Apple has made it clear that it is marketing a value system that is embedded into its extremely powerful brand, a worldview that it will “fight” to defend.
While I disagree with the moral relativism that is promoted by Apple, I admire its leaders’ decision to publicize the various aspects of its worldview.
Also, I believe that Tim Cook’s decision to go public about his sexual orientation last week is the beginning of a new era in which business leaders will become more publicly open about their personal worldviews.
This openness is certainly not because society is now more “tolerant” of unpopular worldviews. It’s just the opposite.
Society is now more segmented than ever before, and worldview segmentation is becoming more pronounced in institutional business as it has in both institutional government and religion.
Although some companies’ worldviews are more coherent than others’, every company is marketing a worldview as part of its brand. Here are some examples of other CEOs expressing controversial aspects of their worldviews in recent history:
Brendan Eich: Former CEO of Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser
Back in 2008, he gave $1000 in support of Proposition 8, California’s pro-traditional marriage ballot proposition. In 2014, OKCupid encouraged their users to boycott Mozilla Firefox because of this expression of his worldview. Mozilla responded by firing Eich promptly because he didn’t maintain Mozilla’s worldview.
George Soros: Hedgefund manager and 27th richest person in the world
Soros is an atheist who is famous for his large donations to the Democratic Party’s political campaigns. Back in 2003, Soros told The Washington Post that removing President George W. Bush from office was the “central focus of my life.” He said it was “a matter of life and death” and claimed that, “if someone guaranteed it,” he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat Bush. By the end of the Democratic Party’s losing quest for the presidency that year, Soros had donated $23,581,000.
In 2010, Soros donated $1 million to fund Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in the state of California if it had passed in the November 2, 2010 elections.
David Green: Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby
When the Obama administration attempted to force his company to pay for employee insurance coverage that covered what they considered to be “abortion-causing” birth control pills, he stood his ground, and Hobby Lobby filed a victorious lawsuit against the US government.
Howard Schultz: CEO of Starbucks
To show his support for the gay rights movement, Schultz flew the gay pride flag over Starbucks’ company headquarters building in Seattle.
As another public expression of his worldview, Schultz is also staunchly pro-Israel. In 1998, he was awarded the “Israel 50th Anniversary Tribute Award” from the Jerusalem Fund of Aish Ha-Torah for “playing a key role in promoting a close alliance between the United States and Israel.”
Dan Cathy: CEO of Chick-Fil-A
Cathy mentioned publicly that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. Subsequently, the left wing of the U.S. launched nationwide boycotts against Chick-Fil-A.