Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG), Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM): Making an Ethical Stand: Does It Matter to Investors?

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Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG)Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) recently made an ethical stance in support of equality when it backed out of a commitment to sponsor a Boy Scout event in Utah. From Yahoo News:

“Chipotle’s anti-discrimination policy states that the company shouldn’t support organizations that exclude based on sexual orientation. When company leaders found out about the promise to offer coupons, they nixed the idea, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said.”

And while I tend to avoid writing about issues that can become quickly lost in a sea of divisive emotion and opinion, a discussion with an investing acquaintance led me to consider a different opinion:  Did backing out of the

commitment make sense?

I think so, but my acquaintance thinks that Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) should have lived up to their commitment to the Scouts.  If someone within the organization had the power to commit to it despite the Scouts exclusionary policy regarding gays, then the company should accept the commitment and move forward.

However, my opinion is that Chipotle’s first obligation is to remain committed to it’s core policies and beliefs.  As I wrote to my acquaintance, “I am sure that Chipotle’s gay employees appreciate working for a company willing to make a stand for equality.”  From Chipotle’s charitable giving policy (bold mine for emphasis:

“Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) will not support organizations that discriminate against a person or a group on the basis of age, political affiliation, race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief.”

While the issue at hand is that someone at the company made a mistake in commuting to an organization that did not fall within the ethical guidelines of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), and the company chose to stick to it’s policy (which I admire,) what does this mean for investors?

In the smaller sense little, but in the big picture maybe everything

In many ways this emphasizes what makes Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) the kind of company that I love.  I’m a big proponent of investing in companies that are actually following through with their words about making the world better.  That includes Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) , and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) .

Consider Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM)’ Motto- Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM), Whole People, Whole Planet, and the company Declaration of Interdependence; written by employees more than 16 years ago and still the guiding set of principles that directs the company today.

Take Google’s Ten things we know to be true, also written years ago and still guiding much of what the company does.  The mission of providing access to as much information as possible is the thread that connects this very diverse company’s many endeavors and interests.  Whether it’s Google Fiber, self-driving cars, or Android, the simple fact is these are all things that provide easier access to Google’s core Search business, which has done countless good for society, (including settling many an argument in my home).

No matter one’s personal beliefs, or the cynical view that the prior paragraphs are all just fluff and hogwash, making money is why you are reading this. With that in mind, consider this:

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