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Business Ethics

Business Ethics Ing. Francisco López Lamas Final Business Ethics Case: Coachella May 12, 2018 Manuel Juaristi

Ing. Francisco López Lamas

Final Business Ethics Case:


May 12, 2018 Manuel Juaristi


Coachella is one of the world’s biggest art and music festivals, each year it holds around 250,000 people who attend the three-day festival to listen to rock, indie, hip hop and electronic music. In July 2016, Coachella made the headlines not by that year’s lineup, but because The Washington Post published an article that highlighted people who where donating money to Anti-LGBT groups. (Capehart, 2016) One of these persons was Phil Anschutz, the owner the the arts and music festival, he had been donating huge amounts of money to anti-gay organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council. (Cook, 2018)

Although these donations had had being made for more than five years prior to this article’s publishing, the news got out amidst a very loud election in the United States, and on a year that had seen a lot of progress for the LGBT community rights. That is why said news caused an uproar from the LGBT people and their allies.

Firstly, we’ll start by discussing if this was, in fact, an ethical or an unethical action, starting by the Aristotelian theory. The essence of a business company, should be to generate profits, that’s why it’s called a business. Therefore, all of the actions of the people involved in the company should have the ultimate goal to maximize this profits. In this case, when Anschutz donated the money to anti-LGBT organizations, he tarnished the image of Coachella, and involved the name of the festival in negative headlines, which could ultimately lead to a lower ticket sale and attendance number. In this case, his actions are considered to be unethical because they do not fulfill the essence of the business company.

Now, if we approach this problem from an Utilitarian perspective, this case would be considered unethical because it has a negative effects on the whole LGBT community. Utilitarianism is a moral doctrine according to which we must act to promote the best possible balance between good over evil to those who are impacted by our actions. If we consider this, we can say without a doubt that Anschutz actions were not trying to achieve a balance between good over evil,

because the companies to which he was donating his money, were focused on stripping this community of their rights, rights which they had spent years fighting for.

Approaching this from another angle, it could be argued that the purpose of an arts and music festival could be maximize their clients experience while living the festival. So, once again, this case would be unethical because Anschutz never thought of the impact that his actions would have on the LGBT community (and if he did, he just didn’t care), and now all of the members of this community who would’ve loved to attend the festival or who are still attending the festival, won’t feel as welcome as they could’ve.

Immanuel Kant gives a great importance to our duty to fulfill our moral principles. From this point of view, Anschutz actions might be considered ethical, because we cannot know whether or not he know that this groups where anti-LGBT, maybe he only thought that he was making a good action by donating money to an organization. We must also consider that Anschutz did not have the obligation to donate any money, he decided to do it because he thought it would be better to donate this money instead of giving it to the government.

Another interesting thing to mention on this case, is that a few years after this scandal, Anschutz donated $1 million to Elton John AIDS Foundation's LGBT Fund, in an attempt to show his support the rights of all people. (Duckoff, 2018) Now, this could've been a good action if he had done it before the previous article was published and only with the final purpose of helping people. But, since the money was donated only as a means to improve his public image and reduce the backlash he was receiving, this cannot be considered an ethical action.

After analysing this previous theories, we can now approach this decision from the company's point of view. Every company has a Corporate Social Responsibility, how they choose to act upon it is up them them, whether they actively do good or just refrain from doing harm. In this example, Anschutz not only did not

do good, but he donated to organizations that were trying to strip the LGBT community members of their rights, consequently harming the lives of this persons.

Another thing to take into account is the dignity of the persons affected by this donations. How did the members of this community felt when the news came out and they had previously purchased tickets to the festival? Their own money was going to end on the hands of people who were fighting against the progress of their human rights. By donating money to anti-LGBT organizations, Anschutz gave a big slap on the face to the whole community, especially after recently inviting Lady Gaga, someone who has been outspoken about the importance of ending homophobia, to be the headliner of the music festival.

The question that now remains is, How could Anschutz prevented this unethical decision? On the future, before making any business decisions like donating money to organizations, the head of the company should know all the information related to said organizations. There is a possibility that Anschutz didn’t know how this organizations were trying to hinder to LGBT community, and he only thought that he was helping an organizations. Had he had all the information, he would’ve been able to make a better decision, one that would’ve been ethical and could even improve the festivals profit, not only because of the reduced tax, but also because of the positive marketing it could’ve gotten by helping organizations fighting for gay rights.

While the different theories have different results evaluating if this was an ethical or a non ethical situation, only Anschutz has all the information and know why he chose to donate to those specific companies. One thing we do know, is that after the news were published and he apologized denied wanting to dictate how the organizations invested the money he was donating, (Zubeck, 2016) he continued donating money to anti-gay candidates (Cills, 2018), so we could infer that he always knew the nature of the companies he was donating money to. In the end, people were affected by this decisions, so even if the festival’s president didn’t want to affect the community on purpose, his actions were definitely not ethical.


Capehart, J. (2016, July 07). Here they are, the ‘enemies of equality’ for LGBT Americans. The Washington Post. Retrieved from


Cills, H. (2018, January 04). Coachella's Owner Continues to Donate to Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay, Pro-Gun Republican Candidates. Retrieved from


Cook, J. R. (2018, April 25). Does Coachella Money Go To Anti-LGBT Groups? Retrieved from


Dukoff, S. (2018, April 16). Cara Delevingne defends Coachella boycott over ‘anti-LGBT’ co-owner despite praising Beyoncé's performance. NY Daily News. Retrieved from


Zubeck, P. (2016, July 7). UPDATE: Anschutz in bed with anti-LGBT forces. Retrieved from