Last week Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks responded to a statement by one of Starbucks shareholders stating,
“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% 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.”[i]
The context of Mr. Schultz’s response was regarding Starbucks low earnings in their first quarter which were being attributed to a boycott that was being carried out by the National Organization for Marriage. According to their website, NOW was “founded in 2007 in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures.”[ii] Mr. Schultz’s clearly admits that his response and the company’s policy was more about “embracing diversity," than economics.
A couple of months ago, President Dan Cathy of Chick fil-A made a similar statement, that Chick fil-A was in support of traditional marriage. The result was a firestorm of Rahm Emmanuel stating, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values,” and Alderman Joe Moreno of Chicago who pushed to stop the opening of a Chick fil-A. There was even a Chick fil-A Appreciation Day that saw massive turnouts for chicken sandwiches.
Let me tell you. I enjoy my grande black tea lemonade with seven pumps of classic. I appreciate the atmosphere of Starbucks as I meet with people, work on my books and kick it with my wife.
I have to give Mr. Schultz’s some credit. He is standing in his convictions and having those convictions pervade the company he leads. That is in fact good leadership. An organization should take on the character of its leader.
Where I disagree with Mr. Schultz’s is his assertion that his decision and the policy of Starbucks is a matter of diversity. It is not diversity if you seek to alienate your shareholders when they hold a different view than the company they own.
Is Schultz just as narrow minded and bigoted as Dan was? Or is Schultz simply seeking to create a culture in which people hold to similar beliefs like Cathy does in his company?
I want to speak directly to Christians who support traditional marriage. Where does this place you today knowing that the business you may solicit or have in your place of worship may not want your business if you hold to a traditional view marriage? (I say “may not” because you can infer from Mr. Schultz’s that his statement can be applied to employees and customers.)
Are you the missional type that sees this as opportunity to check in on the barista and be a witness at your local Starbucks? I would ask you to examine though, “Are you simply doing this missional activity because you don’t want to give up your favorite drink?”
Are you the protest type who will delete the Starbucks app from your phone, tear up your gift cards and support that “other” coffee shop down town? I would ask you to examine though, “How will Starbucks be served if our verbal witness is removed from the atmosphere?”
I think I’ll go grab a drink now!