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Starbucks makes giant step toward promoting equality

Last week, a groundbreaking meeting led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz brought with it scrutiny from competitors, rejoicing from partners (employees), and serious conversation about one of the most sensitive topics in America today.

On March 17 during the 2015 annual meeting of shareholders, the intrepid chairman Schultz launched the #RaceTogether movement in order to spark conversation about race issues. This is in lieu of recent protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, and all across the country. Schultz wants this year-long campaign to raise awareness among coffee drinkers and everyone else in their circle of interest.

Aside from the race discussion,  Schultz also announced that partners would get a 2-for-1 split of stock in the company, which was great news for employees.

This is not the first time the CEO made a controversial (yet necessary) move with his company. In 2008, the company closed all of its U.S. stores in order to re-train its baristas to pour the perfect espresso every time. Schultz’s dedication to quality and relationship over business and money is one of the pinnacle aspects of the man. And this latest attempt to stir the water (or coffee) was met with great avail for the most part.

However, Starbucks’ efforts to actually be progressive and cause people with not so nice views to consider what they’re doing has inevitably cause a faction of people to criticize the company. The naysayers say that Starbucks is in no place to spark social revolution. These people are, of course, just grumpy old white men in business suits.

An article put out by FOX News stated that Starbucks had buckled under the pressure of its negative peers and pulled the practice of writing “#RaceTogether” on customers’ cups. In this somewhat predictable move played by FOX, they were negligent to point out that this was not the company backing off of their mission.

Schultz reported a week after the #RaceTogether campaign had begun that he had planned to only continue this phase of the project for a week. This being said, the baristas only stopped writing on the cups because they were told to do so, and not because the critics and their negativity.

Schultz has an ambitious plan to continue creating conversation on race throughout the year. Three planned publications in collaboration with USA Today are being put out in stores to better inform people on race issues, and plenty of other actions are taking place.

This progressive push to make a difference is a great move on Starbucks’ part, and it’s rare to see a company care about much more than profits. If critics are too gritty, it will discourage other companies to do good as well. This is a trend that I hope will cause a domino effect in American economics.

About The Author

Luke Janke

Luke Janke is a super senior studying journalism at FGCU. When he’s not listening to podcasts, he’s busy producing his own podcast, Full Pulp. Concerts and music are at the forefront of his horizon, and when there’s an ounce of free time you’ll find him in his home studio laying down tracks for his music project, Bull Moose Party. As a self-proclaimed nihilist, his affinity for death is emphasized by the authentic squirrel skull found on his desk in the newsroom.

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