Business from Outside Your Value System

What would you do?

Last week we received an inquiry from a company wishing to place an order with us.  This company is an adult-oriented business that operates a website.  The name of the company is irrelevant for this discussion and is fairly distasteful so I won’t repeat it here.  Let’s just say many people would find the name of the website derogatory towards women.

They contacted Thread Logic because they wanted some logo embroidered apparel.  They had tried to place an order with another company and the order was refused because of their name, logo and the nature of their business.

At this point, I have a decision to make.

We could take the order and begin what could be a profitable relationship.  But if I take the order, do I undermine my values and the values of my employees, some of whom may be offended by the activities of this company?

There are fairly strong arguments on both sides of this debate.  But the one thing I struggled with was the idea of where do you draw the line on working with businesses whose products/services you believe to operate outside your own value system?

It is fairly easy to single-out companies in the adult entertainment business.  But others may not seem so cut and dried.

What if you are opposed to abortion rights and you get an order from a pro-abortion organization?

Say you are a Christian and you get an order from an organization promoting atheism?

What if you support animal rights and you get an order from a company that you think mistreats animals?

And the list goes on….

As business owners we have the right to refuse to do business with anyone we choose.  But in this economy, it is hard to turn away paying customers.

So what did I do?  I went to my employees first and asked them what they thought.  Some said they were offended by the name of the company and what they do.  Others said they would not have a problem if we did the order.

I sent the logo to a friend of mine in the printing industry and asked him what he would do.  He indicated to me he would not take the order.  His gauge for taking on an order like this was interesting.  He said, “I look at these things and ask, ‘If my mother was running the press, would I want her to run this job?’”

OK.  That is an interesting way to approach it.

In the end, I chose not to accept the order.  It was actually a fairly easy decision because the name and logo where so over the top.  And this is not the first time we have made this kind of decision.

But what I found interesting was the debate about where you draw the line with material or companies who provide products or services that may run counter to your own value system.  It was a facinating mental exercise.

I determined we have to approach these on a case-by-case basis.  But I am interested in what you think?  How would you approach this question?  Have any of you had to make a similar decision?

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2 Responses to Business from Outside Your Value System

  1. Susan Perry says:

    I thought your blog was very thought provoking. I loved the “would I let my Mother run it”.

    There are also the issue of freedom of speech.

    I’m going to a networker tonight and I will direct people to your blog.

    Good question.

  2. threadlogic says:

    Susan, thanks. That was kind of the point-to provoke some thought! You are correct about the freedom of speech issue. I didn’t go down that road because I thought it would be implied. But that is a very important part of the discussion!

    Jeff

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