Starbucks: Social Champion

Starbucks: A company that is willing to take on a loss in order to promote social equality.

Starbucks: A company that is willing to take on a loss in order to promote social equality.

Business is business. As most people get into business to make money, morality is often cast aside in favour of profits.  But not every CEO is a heartless money-grabbing monster.  Case in point:  Howard Schultz.  Who is Howard Schultz?  He’s the CEO of Starbucks!  He openly supports marriage equality and has made it clear that Starbucks, by extension, also supports marriage equality.   The result?  The National Organization Of Marriage organized a boycott because they don’t believe in marriage equality.  Good for the soul, bad for business?  Perhaps, but since Schultz has authored two books, one titled Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time and Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul respectively, it is clear that Schultz has put his conscience before his pocket book.

Does this look like a Rothko?  It kind of is.  I photoshopped a Rothko to create an equal sign in support of social equality.

Does this look like a Rothko? It kind of is. I photoshopped a Rothko to create an equal sign in support of social equality.

At a recent stockholders’ meeting, Schultz was taken to task.  Tom Strobhar, a Starbucks shareholder, stated: “In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing”.  Schultz’s response?   “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much”.  The room erupted with applause.

 

Howard Schultz: Puts his conscience before his wallet.

Howard Schultz: Puts his conscience before his wallet.

Some “Christian” bloggers have misconstrued Schultz’s comments.  Dave Jolly, for instance, stated that “Schultz doesn’t care about Christians or their money”.  Not quite what Schultz has said.  Jolly appears to be embellishing things.  Of course, Jolly also imagines that he speaks for all Christians by claiming that Strobhar’s “Christian view” on marriage is opposed to Schultz’s support of marriage equality.  Jolly, frankly, is a fucking idiot.  There are a great many Christians who support marriage equality, so to claim that the ‘Christian view’ is to oppose marriage equality speaks to Jolly’s flawed logic and utter ignorance on such matters.  Of course, anybody who reads Jolly’s title knows straight away that he is a liar (which I believe is a sin according to one of the ten commandments; be sure to ask for forgiveness for that one, Jolly).  The title of Jolly’s article?  “Starbucks CEO Tells Christians to Sell Stock and Support Some Other Company”.  This statement is a lie.  Schultz did NOT tell Christians to sell: he told Strobhar, a single person, that if he was not happy with the company’s performance, he was welcome to sell his shares and invest in another company.  He did not force him to do this; he merely suggested what Strobhar could do if he chose.  Jolly isn’t the only “Christian” to distort what Schultz has said.  Anna Maria Hoffman has also compromised her readers’ trust in her. She claims that Schultz “told shareholder Tom Strobhar that he should stop buying shares in the corporation because he does not support ‘marriage equality.’”

It seems odd that people like Jolly and Hoffman, who claim to be “Christian”, are so openly willing to twist what Schultz has said to further their own agendas.  They both fail to note the hypocrisy in Strobhar’s approach.  Strobhar knew full well that Starbucks, in which he has shares, supports marriage equality. As the of the founder of the Corporate Morality Action Center, Strobhar opposes marriage equality.  Yet he has represented the issue as a financial conflict rather than as a moral one.  He did not say: “I am opposed to marriage equality”; he stated that sales were “disappointing”.  Strobhar was concerned that he wasn’t making enough money whilst supporting a company whose moral agenda conflicted with his own. In fact, there are no reports that Strobhar has even tried to sell his stocks. As far as one can tell, Strobhar has continued to support and associate with a company in support of marriage equality. That means he puts the profits he’s garnering from Starbucks above his own conscience, despite the claim, which appears on his website, that he has fought against corporate involvement in marriage equality.  Far from fighting it, he is a shareholder in a company that supports marriage equality.  I guess that 38% return, while ‘disappointing’ is still enough to help Strobhar forget  that he fights against corporate involvement in marriage equality.  At last year’s Starbucks stockholders meeting, it was reported that Strobhor asked Schultz not to support a liberal agenda, not because it was against his conscience, but rather because it was bad for business.  Is this an equation Strobhar believes in:  $ >

Anna Marie Hoffman: A blogger who likes to attribute things she made up to people who didn't say them.

Anna Maria Hoffman: A blogger who likes to attribute things she made up to people who didn’t say them.  Just because somebody is beautiful on the outside doesn’t make them beautiful on the inside.

Whether you agree or disagree with Schultz’s stance on marriage equality, I think he deserves respect for doing what he believes is right.  He is listening to his conscience, even though it means earning less money, while people like Strobhar seem more concerned with how much money they are making than they are with whether or not their business ventures are in concert with their beliefs.

Sadly, this rainbow Oreo is not available at Starbucks, or anywhere else.

Sadly, this rainbow Oreo is not available at Starbucks, nor anywhere else.

This is not the first time Starbucks has put values above profits.  Starbucks also tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible, even if it means cutting into earnings.  They also help support clean water efforts in third world countries.  I hope Strobhar doesn’t mind that some of these potential profits are going to help starving children while also helping to preserve the environment.

Another photoshopped Rothko, this one is meant to support equality for the environment, seeing as how Starbucks is eco-conscious as well.

Another photoshopped Rothko, this one is meant to support equality for the environment, seeing as how Starbucks is eco-conscious as well.

Starbucks is not the only company to take a moral stand on controversial issues.  Google, for example, has refused to censor search results in China, despite requests to do so by the Chinese government, potentially forfeiting billions of dollars as a consequence. Google has also set aside money to help promote awareness of global warming, poverty, and worldwide public health.

I can't speak for everybody, but this looks like it would be a great wedding to me!

I can’t speak for everybody, but this looks like it would be a great wedding to me!

My hope is that more businesses adopt Schultz’s approach and that companies like Starbucks and Google start to become the norm.  I already go to Starbucks for my chai tea lattes, but now I will be more confident in my purchase, and I will be happy knowing that I will not be running into ignorant, hateful liars who claim to be “Christian”, like Jolly and Hoffman.

I know, this image may not be appropriate, but I'm trying to encourage heterosexual males to see the benefits of marriage equality.  So I'm appealing to their base desires.  Forgive me.

I know, this image may not be appropriate, but I’m trying to encourage heterosexual males to see the benefits of marriage equality. So I’m appealing to their base desires. Forgive me.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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