Howard Schultz on Civil Rights

Starbucks CEO; independent candidate for President until July 2019


Regardless of skin color, get every American represented

want to ask the audience a rhetorical question: does anyone in this audience really believe that our government is working well for the American people today? What should "of the people, by the people and for the people" mean as we head towards 2020? Government of the people means government for all the people. Everybody. Every American. Every child. Regardless of the color of your skin, your religion, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, or how much money you have. Every American should be represented.

Government for the people means exactly that. It means a government that prioritizes the security, the prosperity, and liberty of every American citizen. It means no interest comes before the people's interest. Ladies and Gentlemen, that includes political parties. Government by the people means that citizens are in charge of politicians, not the other way around.

Source: Purdue Univ. speech on 2020 Presidential Campaign website , Feb 7, 2019

Starbucks did little to stop sexual harassment of employees

Starbucks has been sued many times by employees alleging sexual harassment and violence. While Starbucks is hardly unique among low-wage retailers, Schultz is personally responsible for this widespread problem in his business, as it could easily be addressed by robust anti-harassment policies, including but not limited to union recognition, higher wages and strong in-store enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws.
Source: Jacobin magazine on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Feb 1, 2019

Race Together: dialog about race relations in stores

We planned a campaign about race relations in America. We called it "Race Together." An eight-page pamphlet would be distributed for free in Starbucks stores.

One board member wrote, "It is one thing for a person of color to take up this cause. It is another for a global corporation to deal with this issue head on." She noted that, despite my good intentions, I was not in possession of moral authority on this issue. So, I knew there would be people who felt uncomfortable.

I envisioned that a cup inscribed with "Race Together"--followed by the reading guide--would have similar effects in our stores. I was wrong. The tweets came at us like fastballs:

Source: From the Ground Up, by Howard Schultz, p.204-20 , Jan 28, 2019

Race Together: conversation on race with all Starbucks staff

Howard Schultz is leaving Starbucks at a tumultuous moment in Starbucks' history. The company drew protests in April after two black men were arrested while they were waiting inside a Philadelphia store. Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for an afternoon last week to teach employees about racial bias.

"We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity in America," Schultz told CNN last week. But he said, "We need to have the conversation. We need to start."

Schultz has addressed race before. After the police shooting death of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Starbucks asked baristas to write "Race Together" on coffee cups in hopes of starting conversations. "It's not going to solve racism, but I do believe it is the right thing to do at this time," Schultz said at the time.

Source: CBS Boston on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jun 4, 2018

Better race relations starts with conversation

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is encouraging the company's 191,000 employees to talk about race in America and other issues raised by police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson MO and New York City. "The last few weeks, I have felt a burden of personal responsibility," Schultz told the crowd. "Not about the company, but about what's going on in America." He was referring to protests that have spread since grand juries failed to indict white police officers in the [two recent] killings. Schultz [penned a] letter afterwards, entitled, "It Starts With Conversation":

"Many shared personal experiences & offered ideas about how to move the conversation, our company & our country forward. People spoke with such conviction and vulnerability. Everyone demonstrated compassion and personal courage. The Forum was at times uncomfortable, yet overall it was enlightening. It provided many of us, myself included, with a deeper understanding around issues of race and the realities facing our country.

Source: Huffington Post, "Starbucks and Race" , Dec 17, 2014

Support AIDS programs and employee AIDS walks

Community events and sponsorships became an ongoing part of our marketing work, in part to build awareness but also because we believe it's the right thing to do. In addition to our support of CARE, we try to be sensitive to local issues, with our main emphasis on supporting AIDS programs; children's causes, especially children's hospitals; the environment (clean water); and the arts. For the past several years, 300 to 400 Starbucks partners and customers have marched in Seattle's annual AIDS walk.
Source: Pour Your Heart Into It, by Howard Schultz, p.255-256 , Jan 6, 1999

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Page last updated: Apr 30, 2021