By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com May 12 2014 4:00 AM ET
I once had a boss who hurled sharp pencils at her underlings. Another one was such a drunk, I had to drag her up her stairs and inside her house after work. We put up with job indignities because we need money to survive and, if we’re lucky, we enjoy and take pride in what we do.
There are certain things though that I would hope all moral people would draw the line at — say, if their employer is behind the killing, beating, and amputations of people. But Christopher Cowdray (pictured above), CEO of the Dorchester Collection hotels, sees no moral quandary in cashing checks from someone who does just that.
Cowdray works for the Sultan of Brunei, whose investment company owns the Dorchester properties, including, most famously, the Beverly Hills Hotel (they have nine other hotels and big expansion plans). The forward-thinking sultan recently green-lit Sharia law in his country, which opens the door for the stoning to death of gays, as well as women unfaithful to their husbands, and those who have abortions. Also, limbs are cut off if you’re convicted of property crimes and jail greets those who dare to skip religious services.
Sultan employee Cowdray showed up at Monday’s boycott of the “Pink Palace,” declaring no remorse, or even disagreement with his boss’s decisions, and instead heaped condemnation on the protestors, which included celebrities, feminists, LGBT advocates, and others committed to doing the right thing.
The Dorchester Collection has done “absolutely nothing wrong,” Cowdray told reporters, and they are being “totally unfairly picked on.” Aw, those suffering luxury hotels.
Cowdray is concerned about his employees and the local economy, he says. "All [the protestors] are doing is hurting a local business."
It costs nearly $500 a night to stay at the little mom-and-pop business we call the BH Hotel. When CBS News asked if Cowdray had an opinion on the sultan’s law, he answered, "No, I don't have any opinion whatsoever.” Soulless corporate lackeys have a new poster child.
First off, global megalopolises like Los Angeles, Paris, and London, where some of his hotels are, will get along fine amidst one boycott. Sure, the hotel workers at these properties will undoubtedly suffer financially if the hotel business does (it already is), but there are plenty of jobs for them in these cities. That’s something Cowdray should remember.
If Cowdray gave a rat’s ass about human decency, he’d hand in his notice to the sultan — now. Even if he doesn’t care, which seems pretty clear, it would actually behoove him career-wise to quit such a tainted company and find a job somewhere else. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally reads the writing on the wall, sees the #stopthesultan movement is only growing larger, and peaces out. When he finally leaves he can at least pretend he objects to human beings being flogged publicly and stoned to death. Another reason for Cowdray to start boxing up his shit: financial concerns are probably not too pressing for someone who’s been the CEO of a luxury hotel company for seven years; even if he loses his golden parachute, he won’t be scrubbing the Starbucks bathroom any time soon.
Call me sanctimonious, but there comes a point in life when doing the right thing trumps career or money. Working for someone as evil as the sultan is one of those things that are simply beyond the pale; nope, you just can’t do it. There’s one thing to consider when it comes to Cowdray’s decision-making, though — he may simply be scared to death of his boss. It’s one thing to have a writing utensil tossed at your head, it’s another thing to lose it entirely.
NEAL BROVERMAN is a columnist for The Advocate and the editor in chief of Out Traveler. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman