Starbucks Chief Howard Schultz knows his audience

By Laurie Bennett

March 23, 2013 at 6:55am

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz won the hearts of many liberal coffee drinkers this week with a couple of comments rarely heard from top business executives.

At the company’s annual meeting, he faced down a shareholder who questioned the bottom-line impact of Starbucks’ having endorsed same-sex marriage.

“We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity,” Schultz answered.

Howard Schultz
Howard Schultz

“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.”

In an interview on CNBC, Schultz voiced support for an increase in the minimum wage.

He added, however: “We’ve got to be very, very careful what we wish for because some employers — and there could be a lot of them — will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up.”

Schultz, who has supported Democratic candidates in the past, is a critic of big money in politics. He has also complained of a “lack of leadership in Washington.”

He has also urged other business leaders to step up hiring. In 2011, the Starbucks Foundation announced a $5 million donation to a “Create Jobs for USA” initiative.

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  • #1.   Dale Flowers 03.24.2013

    Your blatent disrespect for the Christian values that I hold dear have led me to this conclusion. Although your website states that you welcome diversity of thought your comments are in conflict with that decree. By telling a shareholder to sell his shares just because they disagree with your support of gay marriage does not stand up to the test of tolerance or diversity. The mighty dollar or return on investment from your company I can do without because I am investing in eternity and the return on that investment far exceeds anything your comapnay can offer. Therfore I will not be shopping at any Starbucks locations and I am destroying my Starbucks rewords card. No boycott call is necassary because I am choosing on my own whom I will serve. Choose this day whom you will serve (your cash) I will serve the Lord

  • #2.   Margie 03.24.2013

    Thanks but no thanks Mr Schultz. Now that you have taken sides - I’m no longer interested in buying your coffee. Not worth the price anyway, but it was convenient.

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