Fire A Bigoted Client?

Monday, July 27, 2015 13:32
Fire A Bigoted Client?

Tags: business ethics | client education | client retention | DOMA

When the Supreme Court ruling came out that same-sex couples were entitled to marry under U.S. law, I was pleased. In my personal opinion, this ruling corrected longstanding discrimination that was against the founding principles of this country.

Knowing that I have some gay clients and that many of my clients would likely have gay relatives or friends, I decided to put on a webinar covering the financial impacts of marriage for same-sex couples. I offered my clients – and guests at their option – to attend by email invitation.

I got one response that shocked me.

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 Here is what it said:

Please remove my name from any communications regarding same sex marriage.   The topic is of no interest or value to me and I find it morally offensive.  I can’t even imagine why you invited me since my wife and I are male and female like most marriages in the world.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading! I had no idea that this client was so prejudiced. Since I have a well-established practice, I can afford to dismiss a client, but should I?

After mulling it over and discussing the issue with my team, I decided to take a stand, but not to fire the client. I wanted to be clear with my feelings, but not stoop to his level of intolerance. Here is my reply:

We’re sorry you feel the way you do about same-sex marriage; however, same-sex marriage is now legal in this country, and it’s a big step forward for civil rights. If you don’t know anyone that would benefit from our webinars and updates regarding same-sex marriage, please simply delete the emails. We don’t wish to spread hate by replying negatively to your email, but we don’t feel the same way that you do. 

We are able to remove your name from our mass mailing list, but you will not be receiving any email updates from our company. Please confirm that this is what you wish, and you won’t receive these emails (except the newsletter which you may opt-out of on your own). We will not be adding a separate category for individuals against same-sex marriage.                    

Thank you for your continued trust in our company.

I haven’t heard back from him. Maybe he’s seeking out a new advisor. That would be okay with me.

Comments (5)

Your broad and seemingly biased opinion that all people that oppose same sex "marriage" are prejudiced is astounding. Although the legal aspect of this issue may be settled, the moral issue for many is not. Your insensitivity and lack of perspective on this issue with regard to clients with a different opinion than your own is bush league.
Allridge , August 06, 2015
I respectfully disagree. Thanks for reading!
SherylCPA , August 06, 2015
Sheryl, I have to agree with Allridge on this one. Was Obama a bigot when he defined marriage as between a man and a woman four years ago? Yet, you readily call your clients, presumably people you care about, bigots for not agreeing with you. It isn't the issue itself, but your tone that disturbs me. Leave the hyperbole for the news cycle. I think you completely missed the point.
scoker , August 18, 2015
A simple, "we received your correspondence and have updated our systems to reflect your request." Your client's are entitled to their opinion whether you like it or not. They made a simple request, don't get bent out of shape about it.
rlindner , August 28, 2015
Just ran across this and it again confirms what I have seen over and over again. I am not a fan of labeling but I don't know any other way to frame this. It has been my experience thru MANY years that "liberals" are not tolerant. God forbid that you disagree with them. To do so allows them to label you as a bigot/reactionary/fill in the blank. Case in point here: "in my opinion . . " but this client opted to disagree with the opinion, ergo a bigoted client. This is further illustrated by a thinly veiled "not stoop to their level of intolerance" comment. It is obvious that the author's reply is: if you don't like it, leave. That way the client is intolerant when they leave, not the author. If you are going to make a stand, make a stand. Tell all your clients you will only take their fees/commissions if you agree with your position on this topic, otherwise transfer them out. But don't pretend to practice tolerance in this case. BTW, unaffiliated voter so feel free to label me but you will likely be wrong. Believe it or not, I DON'T mean this as a personal attack and willingly apologize if it is read that way, just pointing out the incongruity of the posting.
dwaterbury , September 11, 2015

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