With what is going on today in the business world we should reflect on what Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said at the company's March 20, 2013 Shareholder Meeting in Seattle, Washington.
If it is hard to hear, here is what he said.
Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity — of all kinds. 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 in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much. – QPolitical.com
What made Schultz proclaim this during the Shareholder Meeting? It was in response to Starbucks very public support of same-sex marriage. The discussion was initiated by the company's founder of Corporate Morality Action Center, Tom Stobhar. He mentioned shareholder earnings had been effected over the last year since Starbucks had backed the same-sex marriage fight. Boycotts had occurred as well as websites like Dumpstarbucks.com had been formed. Some shareholders appear to taking Schultz’s advice and have sold their shares. Dumpstarbucks.com states:
“Starbucks is using its resources to invalidate traditional marriage in the US and redefine the institution of marriage despite the strongly held views of so many of its customers, including me. Therefore, I will no longer purchase anything from Starbucks until you change your corporate values to be more reflective of my own.” – QPolitical.com
As we can see, Starbucks is still doing great 2 years later and popping up on more street corners than we knew existed. They have not gone out of business and I have not heard of any protests against the company based on their same-sex marriage stance.
Salesforce was great with their action of pulling as far away from Indiana as possible, but we need more companies to be proactive like the coffee giant. Starbucks was one of the over 300 U.S. corporations that signed a recent Supreme Court brief in an effort to overturn the nation’s Defense of Marriage Act. We thank you.
Do you think more companies should be as out and open as Starbucks?
What should companies like Apple and Starbucks do in response to the passage of the RFRA Law in Indiana?