Chipotle Mexican Grill will sponsor the Utah Scout-O-Rama, the annual fundraising gala for the Great Salt Lake Council — the largest council in the Boy Scouts of America and the leading voice within the BSA against lifting the nationwide ban on LGBT Scouts and leaders. And a spokesman confirms that the company’s contributions to the event are in direct violation of its own policy against sponsoring groups that discriminate.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday that, while contributions to the event have dropped from $70,000 to just $8,000 due to the pro-discriminatory policies of the organization, one of the few sponsors supporting the event is Chipotle. The article quoted company spokesman Chris Arnold defending the move, telling the paper: “In Salt Lake, the Scouting institution is very strong, and it is our chance to connect with customers in that community,” but noting that the company “would like to see” BSA “in a place that’s more inclusive than where they are now.”
A ThinkProgress review of the company’s charitable giving policies found that Chipotle’s guidelines explicitly states that the company “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.”
ThinkProgress asked Arnold about the obvious contradiction. In an email, he conceded that the decision does violate company policy but said they were going to sponsor the event anyway:
We have built our brand largely by reaching out to people on a grassroots level and have done that working with a variety of community groups around the country, including school groups, youth sports, pride events, music festivals, food events and farmers’ markets, among many others. Our intention in doing that isn’t to endorse the policies of those groups, but rather to reach individuals (in this case the scouts themselves) through groups that are important in a given community. These decisions are made by a team of people around the country with the intention of connecting our restaurants with people in those communities.
That being said, this decision is not consistent with our own values, and we have used this opportunity to reinforce those values with the team that makes those decisions for us.
He added that Chipotle’s “support for this event is limited to coupons for volunteers and participants and was an effort to connect with those individuals, not to endorse any Boy Scout policies.”
In other words, the company is willing to compromise its values by ignoring its own policies when it thinks it might help sell more burritos to young Utahns.
The headline has been corrected to accurately reflect the type of support Chipotle is providing — coupons, rather than direct funding.