By now, the whole world knows about Donald Trump’s audacious remarks in which he characterized Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists. The ripple effects have been massive. One of the latest business partners to sever ties with Trump, is Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who was slated to open a flagship restaurant in Trump’s DC-based hotel, in 2016.
Chef Zakarian released this statement announcing his decision to back out of the Trump Hotel:
“The recent statements surrounding Mexican immigrants by Donald Trump do not in any way align with my personal core values. In light of this, I am unable to move forward with a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel, slated to open in Washington, D.C.’s Federal Post Office building. Zakarian Hospitality employs many immigrants from nations all over the world, and I look forward to continuing this business culture in my future restaurants. We are a nation built from immigrants, my family included.”
Restauranteur and Celebrity Chef Jose Andres also backed out of Trump’s hotel. His statement said this:
“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C.,” the statement reads. “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”
I can see his point. It would be quite hypocritical for him to open a restaurant in an establishment owned by an individual that made slanderous remarks against the specific demographic that built – and will patronize – the restaurant.
Will the Trump fallout blow over? Maybe – although the effects have been far-reaching. Did Chef Zakarian and Chef Andres *have* to back out of their restaurant deals? No. However, it seems they perceived their relationships with Trump as making deals with the devil, which is not how they want to run their operations.
Core values are very easy to live and promote when everything is going well. It’s in difficult times that we are put to the test regarding our commitment to our core values. Trump is not going to let them go quietly. He could potentially damage them – or destroy them – financially if he files suit against them (as his threatening).
Several years ago in my first company, Information Experts, I distinctly remember leaving a lot of money on the table with a government client because I refused to compromise on my core value system. My executive team at the time disagreed with me and felt I was over-reacting. However, I placed my own integrity above the dollar value. I have no regrets about my decision. In another instance, a lobbying firm that represented the tobacco industry wanted to hire our marketing team. There was absolutely no way I would support a project that promoted tobacco use. Once we start to compromise our value system, we jeopardize the integrity of everything we are building. Without our values as our moral compass, we lose our direction.
Core values are not hollow phrases. They are not random words on a back of a business card. They dictate the behaviors of every company employee, at all times. They should be a part of every business decision: who we hire, who we fire, who our customers are, who our partners are, how we position ourselves in the market, how we evaluate the performance of our employees.
What are your company’s core values? What are your personal core values? What are your non-negotiable expectations when it comes to acceptable behaviors from your business stakeholders? What actions would compel you to walk away from a customer, a business partner, or a potential employee?
If you are struggling to answer these questions… if any of your employees are struggling to answer these questions, it may be time for you to revisit your value system. Doesn’t your organization deserve it?
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photo credit Stuart Miles via Free Digital Photos