If your chamber votes new member in, have you ever voted to exclude one? Maybe an adult bookstore or maybe a marijuana business. The face of business is changing. Chamber members are no longer just banks and insurance companies.
This is a question that has been brought up in the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook several times.
The question has been brought up on why we have to “vote” a new member into the chamber. Other than the answer that “its in our bylaws” – what would you said the reason for this process? Also, if its not stated in your bylaws – what would be your process on an adult bookstore wanting to join? This has not happened however, it was a topic that was brought up in a recent board mtg.
Do you ever exclude businesses on moral grounds? How would you handle this situation?
Take a look at the 20+ responses from chamber professionals:
This discussion is for Insiders (members only).
On What Grounds Does the Chamber Exclude Businesses?
Darci Smith Perkins We usually just say that we like to inform the board of all new members and what those members have to offer so that they are better able to promote them. We try to not say that the board has to approve or vote on their membership.
Mary Ann Miller Good question! We do it as a matter of course but no one outside the Board knows that’s happening. and while we’ve expelled a few members in 14 years we’ve never not approved a new one. As for the adult bookstore — they’re a legitimately operating business so, yes, welcome them in! We’ve had Hustler Hollywood and Fascinations as members; we just retain the right to not connect directly to a member’s website.
Oh — and if the adult bookstore ever decides to sponsor something, be sure you see what they add to any goody bag. A few years back, unbeknownst to any staffer or volunteer, an adult store added edible condoms to the goody bags on the carts at our golf tournament. We found about it at the end of the round.
Jennifer Cayton Sprout Our policy is if they have the proper business licensing (State and Local) They can join our Chamber. We use to also vote and dropped it about a year ago. We are in Nevada and have brothels that are members and we just make sure any adverting done through the Chamber is just their name. They seen to understand. I never really understood why your board should be approving members, if they are a Business conducting commerce in your area with the proper license they should be allowed to join.
Jason E. Camis ha ha! I laugh because we’ve had this debate for two years now. We’re taking that language out of our bylaws in this revision for just that reason, because we would approve any legitimately operating business. It’s not to say we won’t have issues (think of any business that deals with some type of morality issue), but we didn’t want the ambiguity.
Michael Pingree Making membership contingent on board approval just seems like a nasty lawsuit waiting to happen. If they are operating legally, they have the same rights as any other business.
Andrew Cripps I absolutely want our board to vote to approve any new members. Yes, we could be sued if we decide not to accept the local strip club or porn shop, but that’s what directors and officers insurance is for. Honestly, I doubt the local porn shop wants the headache and publicity of suing the chamber of commerce, but I could imagine a tremendous rise for our chamber’s reputation in the community if they did.
Mary K. Parsons We don’t approve the new members; we accept them. Just in case one of our board members might know of something unethical about them.
Mike Paone Don’t necessarily have to recruit them, but if they ask then I would Welcome them in just like any other business. Chances are they might be looking for a debate to bring some extra publicity if you have issue. Or they might become a great member because they respect your acceptance
Andrew Cripps No. It will be up to our board to decide whether to accept or reject any application. The decision may not be based on the type of business.
Robert Goltz Andrew, you may want to check with your legal council and insurance provider. Your policy of voting for these members could make your policy null and void, leaving your board, your organization and yourself liable. Your by-laws need to stipulate what you will and will not allow into your organization. Not the governing board of directors in the matter of a Chamber of Commerce.
Beth Bridges In Toastmasters we were told to vote people in so that you could vote them out.
Teri Wilson Edwards In those chambers who say ‘as long as they are legitimate businesses with the licenses necessary ‘- WHO checks that? I certainly don’t have time to research members to see if they have all that stuff. ..
Christa Kozy I didn’t see this post but we are dealing with a similar issue right now–someone who has openly protested our businesses sponsoring an event in our town. We are meeting with legal counsel tomorrow on this.
Chambers and Morally Opposing Businesses
Anissa Freeman Starnes What is NOT moral to some IS moral to others…legal businesses are legal businesses.
Mary Ann Miller If they were a legitimately operating business in the state, they’d be welcome. But, honestly, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to recruit them.
Michael Strube I would welcome them, they are legal businesses… we haven’t discussed it at our board level yet, but they will be opening in Bremerton in the next 3 months
Ken Oplinger Had them in Bellingham (and they paid in cash!) and would welcome them in Santa Barbara too. I represent businesses, I don’t dictate morals.
Mary Ann Miller But here’s a question: Would you have a mixer there?
Ken Oplinger Absolutely. Just like having a mixer at an adult bookstore.
Michael Strube Why not? They better have good food!
Andrew Cripps Do we allow liquor stores? What’s the difference? I don’t see this as a moral issue, but a legal one. It’s still illegal under federal law, so I wouldn’t be so quick to welcome them.
WM Jones I, personally, am glad that the pet store that breeds and sells puppies in the next town over from us hasn’t asked about membership. I am extremely morally opposed to pet stores and would have a hard time dealing with them. I would, though, because I wouldn’t impose my beliefs on anyone else. If they are a legal business, they have the same rights as a bakery or gas station.