The Red Hen Controversy
(6 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
On June 22, 2018, Stephanie Wilkinson, co-founder of the Red Hen, a small farm-to-table restaurant in rural Virginia, was caught off guard when a frantic call from her chef told her that the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had just sat down to eat at Wilkinson's restaurant. Staff at the Red Hen were tense because they fundamentally disagreed with Sanders's support of the Trump administration on issues such as immigration and transgender rights. Wilkinson was equally concerned because she had kept politics off the menu at the Red Hen for over 10 years in a politically charged city. Now, Wilkinson had to decide whether to side with her employees and her own moral values and ask Sanders to leave, or permit Sanders to stay at the restaurant. Either way, Wilkinson knew that there would be consequences and that the media would be knocking at her door.
This case is intended for undergraduate or graduate level courses on communications, leadership, and entrepreneurship. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Think about their own core beliefs, morals, and ethics, and how they influence business decisions and leadership character, as well as comfortably share their views with others.
- Consider timelines, business and media relations, and possible community-related and personal consequences when dealing with stressful crisis situations.
- Understand the complexities of dealing with the intersection of politics, ethics, media, and business.
- Develop a code of conduct or ethics policy that could guide a business in times of difficult decision-making and inform customers of how they can expect to be treated.
- Consider how word choice and any official statements can critically affect brand and reputation.
Accommodation & Food Services
United States, Small, 2018
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