Last Wednesday, Occupy Oakland planned a citywide strike to protest income disparity in America, and the local Men's Wearhouse closed its doors in support that day, hanging a sign on its storefront that read: "We stand with the 99%."
It's doubtful that this was a ploy to persuade thousands of Oakland protesters not to hate on the suits (or lob rocks through the store window). The Atlantic's coverage pointed out that Men's Wearhouse founder and Chairman George Zimmer has a history of shelling out political donations to Democratic candidates like Howard Dean and U.S. Rep Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and also financially supported California's Proposition 19 effort to legalize marijuana.
Businesses have the right to take such measures and create their own policies, even if the reasons are controversial, contentious or politicized. And of course, it's also every consumer's right to decide if they still want to shop at establishments that have taken firm stands on hot-button issues.
Furthermore, many businesses and corporate leaders take the sneaky way out on controversial topics and quietly donate to candidates and causes. Often, consumers are never the wiser about what their spending at those establishments eventually helps support.
Let's give credit to the companies that actually take public stands on major issues -- it's pretty darn courageous. They might lose some customers, but they're also being far more honest in revealing what their managements are all about. The Occupy Wall Street crowd may not be fans of suits, but clearly, some suits are on their side anyway.
Motley Fool analyst Alyce Lomax does not own shares of Men's Wearhouse. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.