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Not Everything Is Economics, Not Even At The Shareholders' Meeting
March 23, 2013 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Issues A Smackdown The CEO of the hugely successful, not universally beloved coffee chain gives a brief statement on the intersection, or lack thereof, between economics and respect for diversity.
posted by Ipsifendus (72 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's some Aaron Sorkin shit right there. If you oppose gay marriage then this should give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach because this is the latest in a litany of incidents that shows you are well and truly licked.

To those that support gay marriage: more of this. Treat people who oppose gay marriage like the loons they are. You no longer have to worry about being treated like a fringe looney for assuming everybody in the room supports gay marriage because you aren't!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2013 [29 favorites]


Hear, hear.
posted by figurant at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2013


"It is not an economic decision," he said. "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."

[...]

“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,” said Schultz.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was fucking awesome. Bravo!
posted by Brocktoon at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Conservative CEO's remind you that they are worth their gigantic golden parachutes as your investment tanks, because they are Job Creators, and you as a job-having peon, should Obey. Liberal CEO's give you a 38% return on your investment on an annual basis while acting in their employees' interests in Washington.

Not as good as a powerful union and employee-ownership of the company, but not bad.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:09 PM on March 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


To be fair, Shultz pounded the pavement against Obamacare (a word my phone recognizes which is hilarious) so he's not the Great Liberal Hope. But that's exactly the point. A self-serving CEO publicly took a shit on the chest of some moron shareholder because of gay marriage and the near-universal response is laughter and applause.

It's legitimatly funny how far gay marriage opponents have fallen so fast.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:15 PM on March 23, 2013 [26 favorites]


Thank you Mr. Schultz for making it easier to justifymy lifestyle of pure caffeine over a diet of that "natural and organic sustainable" crap they're pushing down the street.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:16 PM on March 23, 2013


Damnit Doublewhiskeycokenoice, you're ruining it for me.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:18 PM on March 23, 2013


It's legitimatly funny how far gay marriage opponents have fallen so fast.

Still, it's up to SCOTUS, now, as to whether we let Christians take away our rights. And while I feel better about getting a coffee there, if the CEO wasn't bringing in ~40% returns, this may have been a different exchange.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:26 PM on March 23, 2013


Obamacare (a word my phone recognizes which is hilarious)

The President himself is cool with it being called Obamacare - and since I voted for him twice, I am, too.

And any CEO, despite their affiliation, will be badmouthing Obamacare, as it means top talent can move more freely - you have to pay them what they're worth, and not rely on your benefits package to keep them on the farm. It's why the Republicans will do their damnedest to repeal it at any given opportunity - if liberal CEO's are unhappy, conservative Golden Parachuters are in absolute pearl-clutching apoplexy. Pay someone who's not a C-level exec real money? GASP!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on March 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is one issue where corporations have been way ahead of the GOP. Every company I've worked for in the past two decades has been supportive of LGBT rights and partners. Granted, it was silicon valley, but it even included some time at IBM, which some people might think of as conservative.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:29 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's too bad that diversity doesn't extend to sick people, but, hey, better than nothing.

I will say, though, that calling that a "smackdown" cheapens the word. He didn't smack anything down. It was a totally colourless defence of the policy. "We believe in diversity" is about as weak a defence of gay marriage as you can get. That's fine, it's a shareholder meeting, just don't oversell it.
posted by Dasein at 8:36 PM on March 23, 2013


The shareholder on the receiving end is a well known conservative shareholder troll.
posted by kmz at 8:38 PM on March 23, 2013


I saw this on the Stranger Blog earlier, and I voted that "I'm happy that they support equal marriage, but I'm still not buying their coffee".

I may have been wrong - I'm so happy with this endorsement that I can't help but have happy feelings about Starbucks now, which will probably influence me to buy their coffee even after I forget why.

It was the right thing to do, of course, but it will also have a positive benefit to their bottom line - supporters of equal marriage are younger and we're in the growing majority.
posted by jb at 8:45 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's too bad that diversity doesn't extend to sick people, but, hey, better than nothing.

Doesn't Starbucks offer health insurance? I heard that they did in the USA.

Ah, I see - he opposed Obamacare. Which is crazy - unless he opposed it because it was a terrible compromise and instead wants proper single payer public insurance. Every employer should support state-based health care, if only for their own selfish reasons. They would save so much money.
posted by jb at 8:50 PM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pour Your Heart Into It is a great book, and should be read by anyone thinking of starting a business.

Also: Schultz came back to turn around things at the Starbucks most of us know and hate earlier in the last decade.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:55 PM on March 23, 2013


Starbucks in Thailand introduced me to iced-americano-grande-little-bit-ice, for which I will always be grateful.

It's cold and caffeinated, but it doesn't taste of cola.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:55 PM on March 23, 2013


It's always been weird for me how much corporate interests are attached to gay rights. On the one hand, this is awesome. It's a sign that free(ish) market capitalism really does incentivize at least some progressive ideas some of the times without the need for government regulation. At least that's what the neoliberal inside of me that loves Hip-Marketing-Team socks and Legit-Hax0r-Brand laptop would say as he munched on Name Brand Multigrain Wafers. But then the socialist rears up and she tells me that this is all in the name of selling, that, even if corporations can be on the progressive side of things, this is always done so with profit margins in the depths and branding at the fore. The socialist then goes on to make a sweeping indictment of corporations at large, not just for their past mistakes, but because they are taking much of the credit for the energy in gay rights activism.

The activists who have mounted countless campaigns upon campaigns, they are the ones to which credit is due. The news covers gay activism stories about Budweiser and Oreos and Lady Gaga but they like to ignore the ones about Dan Savage or Bayard Rustin or Janice Langbehn. The socialist also says a lot about how the image of a gay man in America is almost predominantly made up of white, middle class men and that the white, upper-class billionaire CEOs who tepidly defend 'diversity' are as bad as the old Hollywood portrayals of lipstick feminism. Why do we have CEOs and corporations serving as the gatekeepers of what is allowed and what isn't?
posted by dubusadus at 8:55 PM on March 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Starbucks offers health insurance to at least some part-time employees, even. That may not preclude the company from having issues with the ACA.
posted by padraigin at 8:56 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a Sonics fan...

Screw you Howard.
posted by Windopaene at 9:04 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Starbucks offers benefits to part time employees. So it's ok to like the guy. I don't like Obamacare either. I still have shitty coverage. Where's my single payer?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:04 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do we have CEOs and corporations serving as the gatekeepers of what is allowed and what isn't?

Because they are the bellwethers for What Is Acceptable in America, given the value and sanctity we place upon The Almighty Corporation. The fact that gay rights are boring enough that Corporate America--which fears controversy of any kind--is willing to stand up for them is a massive indicator of where the acceptability level lies.

We're saying the same thing, I think, but what I am saying is this is important precisely because his only interest is selling you overpriced coffee. That is, for whatever reason--be it genuine morals or be it a hard look at employee/customer satisfaction stats--it is Good Business to support gay rights rather than to not and that is, sad to say, exactly what it's going to take to get the foot-dragging political class on board. If their keepers in the corporateocracy tell them to knock it off with the gay-bashing bullshit, all the "controversy" will vanish from the political sphere and things will move along quite nicely.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:10 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh I just recalled that the Starbucks by my house is across the way from Vanguard University (Assemblies of God). It's often packed with students. Great job, boycott!
posted by Brocktoon at 9:14 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's great that Schultz said what he said, but voicing a little bit of progressive politics goes a long way to keep a large segment of their customer base from deciding that they should spend their money at the independent coffee shop in town place rather than the huge corporate chain. It's a little like when Henry Ford paid his factory employees a living waige sop they afford the cars he sold.
posted by riruro at 9:15 PM on March 23, 2013


Why do we have CEOs and corporations serving as the gatekeepers of what is allowed and what isn't?

Because in this one instance he defied a group of shareholders.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2013


Like a boss.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 9:24 PM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The strategy of it makes sense. Enemy of my enemy, sure. I once met this group of drunk, bad neighbor guys at a music festival who, between stories about their white collar job and their trucks, went out of their way to explain to my group why the gays were people too. But the net effect on society isn't limited to GLBT acceptance, even though that is one huge net positive. There's an agenda to it, a false shroud of progressivism that exonerates them from their other tendencies. And if corporations are the bellwethers then there's not a lot of hope for a mindful society, is there? I'd like to think that we're not all that naive as to justify our spending habits because of a flaccid defense of something we like but this thread is a perfect case in point. The socialist me loves what Zizek says about buying our way out of our guilt. This is the same kind of tokenism, and I think for those of us who already knew better about gay rights a long time ago, this is the story that we can ignore. If we really want to show our support then the worst way we could go about it is to be hooked by this lukewarm bait.
posted by dubusadus at 9:29 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until you guys legalize same-sex marriage and adoptions and all that stuff, it's probably best not to overthink it and allow yourself to be hooked. Referencing Zizek is a bit of a luxury when same-sex partners cannot claim benefits or other legal rights that bereaved folks are entitled to, for example.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 PM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't care how he feels about gay marriage. I want him to look me in the eye and tell me why Starbucks' sandwiches are so expensive. $5.95 for one of those little things, really?
posted by MattMangels at 9:41 PM on March 23, 2013


I want him to look me in the eye and tell me why Starbucks' sandwiches are so expensive.

Because people who patronize Starbucks™ have already demonstrated that they eschew value. Hence the 38% shareholder return.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:45 PM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


And while I feel better about getting a coffee there, if the CEO wasn't bringing in ~40% returns, this may have been a different exchange.

Sure. But the important thing is that this is the exchange that happened. Starbucks has worn this political position on their sleeve for years now and it hasn't stopped them from delivering a 38% return.

Supporting gay marriage isn't even close to being an economic liability anymore.

Opposing it though?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:50 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every employer should support state-based health care, if only for their own selfish reasons. They would save so much money.

Maybe in the long term. In the short term, taxes on the 'platinum' plans went up, and if you were already offering 'platinum' plans, you
a) reduce your healthcare benefit to avoid the taxes, for a likely very large goodwill cost from the employees, or
b) (as a company) pay more to keep the same level of benefits for your employees, or
c) a bit of both, paying a bit more for slightly lower benefits

(I don't know what kind of offering Starbucks had, and if that platinum thing applied to them).

Also, in tech at least, offering [really good] health insurance is one of the differentiators between the big companies and the startups, where it is hard for startups to offer the same level of coverage. So maintaining that barrier to entry for individuals/small companies is absolutely a benefit to the existing large companies.
posted by jacalata at 9:53 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


BOOM
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:10 PM on March 23, 2013


Wait, huh? Not hating LGBTQ people and unapologetically chasing the bottom line aren't mutually exclusive. Particularly in the case of a company like Starbucks, whose consumers skew urban, educated and liberal.

Schultz is selling espresso, not corn feed. While I don't doubt his comments are sincere, it's not immediately obvious that this isn't just pandering to the values of his core consumer base.

This is not courageous. CEOs are rarely courageous.
posted by charlemangy at 11:11 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


maintaining that barrier to entry for individuals/small companies is absolutely a benefit to the existing large companies.

'Cause competition's bad, 'nkay?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:11 PM on March 23, 2013


Blazecock Pileon wrote...
Still, it's up to SCOTUS, now, as to whether we let Christians take away our rights.

Now I'm really confused. SCOTUS is made up of Christians appointed by Christians. Are you suggesting the Christians will rule against themselves? How would that even work?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:07 AM on March 24, 2013


'Cause competition's bad, 'nkay?

From the perspective of an employer focused solely on their own profits, as we were discussing? Frequently, yea.
posted by jacalata at 12:21 AM on March 24, 2013


Once again, some Mefites cannot give their stamp of approval to someone doing the right thing, because they didn't do it exactly the way these blowhards insist it should have been done. Perfect is the enemy of good, people. This was front page news, and as such it might influence some people that gay marriage is indeed coming at them full steam and they need to get over their bad selves and come to terms with it. That's my hope, anyway.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:51 AM on March 24, 2013 [30 favorites]


All things being equal regarding the particulars of this story and the players involved, it does have to be said that, almost universally, too many people too often cite statistics and the bottom line as the most self-evident rationalization for their arguments.

This, I think, has led to the slow but inevitable downfall of our economic and political leadership, on both sides. The inability to think or talk beyond the bottom line.

I don't know why I feel the need to tie this into what is going on in the EU, but the manner in which vast sums of money have been sucked in and out of countries over there, at the behest of an international banking elite that has disabled any and all forms of political resistance, is stunning. It has involved an almost complete disregard for the practical impact this has had on the individual and his or her society, and involves no concept of the future other than one which involves paying back debt. And in adopting this tone, it has been strikingly effective.

In terms of vulgarity, this is not that unlike a shareholder using the free market to justify anti-gay activism. Perverted, self-serving thinking masquerading as logic.

To this end, it is almost taboo to believe in principles. Because ultimately, principles are not always self-evident, and they don't have to be. They require, to use a roundly dismissed word, faith.

This problem, namely, the inability for people to believe in something better collectively, and go out and create it, statistics be damned, is far more widespread than same-sex politics. I hate to say it, but the social institutions needed to make this happen have either been discredited or simply don't exist. This is the new reality, we are all on our own now, politically correct and totally disconnected, and we have all been trained to consume it.

The best we can hope for then, as some people have already pointed out in this thread rather cynically, is that the greatest good continues to intersect with our corporate economic interests. But.. it's hard to imagine how this could be.
posted by phaedon at 1:31 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah but they are large scale tax evaders in the UK, so actualy, it is all Economics (well, profit) to Starbucks, else they would pay up properly. This is a publicity stunt designed to engage the LGBTQ communities and make them think favourably of the company.

WHEN THEY PAY THEIR TAXES PROPERLY THEY CAN TALK ABOUT LGBTQ ISSUES.
posted by marienbad at 1:49 AM on March 24, 2013


WHEN THEY PAY THEIR TAXES PROPERLY THEY CAN TALK ABOUT LGBTQ ISSUES.

And until then, stop saying nice things? Brilliant.

As much as I'm in favor of individuals, corporations, and governments getting their shit together, I'm afraid that no one would be able to do much of anything if perfect conduct were a prerequisite for DOING ANYTHING.

If this is an example of enlightened self interest by an avowedly problematic corporation (and aren't they all?), then by all means, Starbucks, stunt away.
posted by lumensimus at 2:09 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


KokoRyu:Referencing Zizek is a bit of a luxury when same-sex partners cannot claim benefits or other legal rights that bereaved folks are entitled to, for example.

No, lauding the CEO of Starbucks and choosing to patronize the chain is the real wash here. When I say that buying coffee from Sbux is the worst way to support gay rights, and when I reference Zizek's argument of tokenism I am saying that there are better ways like voting for a politician with a pro-gay rights record or volunteering at the HRC or getting your friends and family to listen to early episodes of Savage Love or getting them to attend gay pride rallies and so on.

I have no idea why you're calling overthinking or referencing Zizek as a 'luxury' if what he and I are calling for is active engagement and participation in the causes we believe in, in opposition to the weak, neoliberal ideal of buying Newman's Own and being satisfied that you're saving the planet. I don't know how you can possibly think that this flimsy bit of line toeing could possibly be a significant step forward in the campaign for gay rights.
posted by dubusadus at 5:03 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the most bloodless, weaksauce defense of gay rights I've ever seen. He doesn't even mention any gay people or problems, just "people" and "diversity."

What are you all seeing that I'm missing?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:03 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never been in a Starbucks, much less drank their coffee, but I'm now reconsidering.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:13 AM on March 24, 2013


Given the demos of Starbucks' core customer there is nothing courageous about coming out in favor of LGBT rights. Indeed the opposite might be true.

I mean its great and all, but call me when the CEO of Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops starts talking about this at its annual meeting.

I mean don't get me wrong, this is great and I'm happy he is publicly making the statement, but it isn't nearly as divorced from economics as some might claim it is.
posted by JPD at 5:48 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every employer should support state-based health care, if only for their own selfish reasons. They would save so much money.

Maybe in the long term. In the short term, taxes on the 'platinum' plans went up, and ...


I do not think you're talking about what was meant by "state-based health care;" you're talking about the ACA. For an illustration of the stae-based advantage for businesses, look at the auto manufacturies being moved from Michigan to Canada.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:11 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Granted, it was silicon valley, but it even included some time at IBM, which some people might think of as conservative.

When IBM bought the startup I was working for, the hr person who gave a presentation on our benefits package said that it was a purely pragmatic business decision to offer same sex benefits. They didn't want to exclude good candidates and they didn't want to offend people buying their products. This was fifteen years ago, I assume that it's even a better business decision now.
posted by octothorpe at 6:25 AM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is the most bloodless, weaksauce defense of gay rights I've ever seen. He doesn't even mention any gay people or problems, just "people" and "diversity."

What are you all seeing that I'm missing?


Considering that a majority of the hipster Christians I know carry around Starbucks coffee like it's de riguer, maybe he's trying to not piss off two different demographics at the same time?

(Myself, his political opinions don't matter nearly as much as the fact I think Starbucks coffee is overpriced and burnt tasting, plus I have access to better coffee elsewhere.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:36 AM on March 24, 2013


SCOTUS is made up of Christians appointed by Christians.

Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan are Jewish. Just saying.
posted by lullaby at 7:21 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like the part where he said (paraphrasing here) if you don't agree, go buy shares in some other company. To me that seems unprecedented or at least pretty cavalier. Am I reading to much into that?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2013


I worked at Starbuck in Vancouver in the mid-90s. I was just out of school and full of Gen-X apathy and distrust. Back then (don't know how it is now) new hires went through something like thirty hours of training which included an in-depth study of The company's mission statement and the six sub-bullets to it. Do corporations still talk about Mission Statements? Starbucks took their mission statement very seriously. It was printed on the backside of your employees card and I don't remember anything from it except for the last point which was that Starbucks respected diversity. Obviously I rolled my eyes and cringed my way through the session because corporations were evil and they didn't really care about anything except making money and everything else was just talk.

Fast forward six or nine months, i attended my first town hall for employees which was something the company did. I think there were hundreds of employees there and the big manager from the lower mainland did a talk and then opened the floor to questions. There were a couple mics set up. Because I was so Gen-X and a smartass and had my friends to encourage me, I got up and joined the line. After a longish preamble about Mission Statements and sincerity and following through on words with actions I questioned the company's commitment to diversity. I explained how I was Jewish, and how at my store there were a number of Jewish regular customers, and how recently during Passover there had been no effort to provide Kosher For Passover foods. While there had suddenly appeared cookies decorated to resemble easter eggs, why hadn't we also provided some prepackaged macaroons or other grain free items. To his credit, the big manager type listened, acknowledged my concern, reiterated the importance of diversity to the company and said he'd get back to me.

A couple weeks or more passed and I still hadn't heard back from him so I sent him a follow up email using the an internal company communication system. I was winning. They didn't really care. I CC'd all the stores that had been at the town hall. He responded with something, I can't remember what, but vague enough that I'd thought I won. I printed off and showed his response to my friends at the store. There were many high fives. Somehow I hadn't lost my job and somehow I wasn't even reprimanded.

Some months later the boxes of Christmas merchandise arrived except this year there were Channukah themed tumblers and other chachkas included. With every shipment we received more stuff. The baked goods deliveries included cookies shaped like menorah and dreidels. Now the thing to mention is that this store wasn't in a Jewish neighborhood, it was downtown in the retail mall below an office building. Besides me, I knew only two Jewish regulars. There really wasn't anyone to buy this stuff. None of the other stores received any of this stuff. The cookies didn't really sell that well, and the tumblers were on the shelf until January when they were marked down. The next November we again received Channukah merchandise and baked goods. And again most of it got marked down in January. The year after that I got transferred to a different store. That November I still had a friend or two at the old store and they called to tell me my channukah merchandise had arrived. I left for a different job sometime the next year but was still in Vancouver. I'd make an effort to drop by my old store over the holidays every year to see if they were still receiving Channukah tumblers. Eventually the entire staff of that store turned over and I wondered if they wondered why they kept receiving Channukah merchandise that no one bought. I eventually moved away and haven't been back to check, but can confirm Starbucks is seriously about diversity.
posted by dismitree at 7:45 AM on March 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


Starbucks is also pretty serious about avoiding tax - in the UK, it paid no income tax '09-'12, a situation which only changed when public outcry about tax avoidance got so bad Amazon volunteered to pay a lump sum.

I don't really know how that works out for Starbucks and diversity over here. Seeing as they're not making a profit in the UK (on paper, that is) should they then listen to their bigoted shareholders? After all, on paper, they need to make some big changes so that they earn enough income to qualify for income and corporation tax.

Or, is this the stupidest ever reason for doing something right. It's like saying "don't kill people, because they might spend money on you". Yeah, whatever. Your lack of morals isn't excused by accidentally doing the right thing.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:00 AM on March 24, 2013


This is the most bloodless, weaksauce defense of gay rights I've ever seen.

You know what? That's a good thing! When supporting gay rights as a part of corporate diversity is weak because it's such a social and economic no-brainier I call that progress.
posted by sexymofo at 8:09 AM on March 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


The post title is not strictly correct I think. The vaguest nod from Starbucks in acknowledgement of anti same-sex marriage sentiment would hurt their business far more than brushing the crustacean off, as Schultz just did.

Also, Starbucks has had diversity in their mission statement from the start, and that has proven to be a winning strategy.

as sexymofo just said, it's a good indication that gay rights are a done deal, and should be the norm.

The free coffee at work is quite tolerable, but I might just splurge on a grande something or other just to help indicate that they're on the right track.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:15 AM on March 24, 2013


SCOTUS is made up of Christians appointed by Christians.
Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan are Jewish. Just saying.


Good point. No matter which direction this thing goes the Christians can blame the Jews.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:04 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a little like when Henry Ford paid his factory employees a living wage sop they afford the cars he sold.

So what was wrong with this? It's a model which worked, and which helped decrease inequality/improve living standards through much of the mid-20th century. It seems to me that not thinking like Henry Ford in regards to your workers as customers is one of the ways that employers are gutting the potential consumer class.

Maybe in the long term. In the short term, taxes on the 'platinum' plans went up, and ...

I do not think you're talking about what was meant by "state-based health care;" you're talking about the ACA. For an illustration of the state-based advantage for businesses, look at the auto manufacturies being moved from Michigan to Canada.


That's exactly what I was talking about: government-based health care, whether single payer (as in Canada) or a proper socialized health care system (as in the UK). Employers win so much when they don't have to provide basic healthcare to their employees.
posted by jb at 10:05 AM on March 24, 2013


What are you all seeing that I'm missing?

The CEO of a very profitable and highly visible corporation, whose job description has responsibility to shareholders as pretty much its first bullet-pointed priority, telling a shareholder that rejecting bigotry is more important than his nominal responsibility to each and every shareholder. At a public shareholders' meeting, in a moment and manner the CEO knows with absolute certainty will make national news across the US and result in a widely seen YouTube clip.

Need that reiterated? He is breaching what people in his corporate universe of finance and power consider to be the single most important protocol of his job to pointedly denounce anti-homosexual bigotry in business terms. He tells a shareholder - in effect, telling the entire bigot lobby - that his ubiquitous coffee chain does not want their investment or their business if it's contingent on tacit acceptance of their intolerance.

Not every significant victory in a civil rights movement is the March on Washington.
posted by gompa at 10:26 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Could the mods please change the FPP link to the one that gompa is talking about? That video sounds awesome!
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:36 AM on March 24, 2013


Could the mods please change the FPP link to the one that gompa is talking about? That video sounds awesome!

You are aware just how weightless, content-free and shareholder-leghumping the pronouncements of CEOs at shareholder meetings generally are, yes? You're clear that "Speaking extemporaneously, CEO tells shareholder to take his money elsewhere" in this context resides in the same general neighbourhood to "CEO drops pants, recites sound poetry, denounces capitalism"? Yes?

Keep holding out for the Harvey Milk hope speech, though. I'm sure the CEO of Wendy's will be stepping up with that kind of oratory any day now.
posted by gompa at 11:49 AM on March 24, 2013


If Starbucks actually gave a shit about diversity, then they wouldn't have intentionally created the Starbucks-on-every-corner coffee monoculture that destroyed all of the independent coffee shops that I used to love going to in the '90s.

Regardless of how the senior management at Starbucks actually feels about LGBT rights, this all comes across as just another part of their overall marketing plan, a transparent attempt at making affluent urban progressives feel okay about giving even more money to an anti-labor/anti-competition corporate behemoth. While they've got everybody chomping at the bit to become part of some cultural-values proxy war, they're still making damn sure that you're paying into their system instead of supporting the local community.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2013


You are aware just how weightless, content-free and shareholder-leghumping the pronouncements of CEOs at shareholder meetings generally are, yes?

Sure am! In fact, I just watched a CEO talk like that today.

I'm not calling *you* bloodless, gompa, I'm calling Schultz that. You've shown just what he could have done, and the contrast between your words and his is exactly the problem. The most important thing, to me, is that he DOESN'T SAY "If you are a bigot, take your money elsewhere." He says, "If you can beat our returns, take your money elsewhere." Clearly, it's all about economics, and if it wasn't profitable, he'd be admitting that the bigots had a point. He never rejects bigotry at all! You have to do it for him!

So call me pro-gompa and anti-Schultz.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:09 PM on March 24, 2013




So if somebody eats a Chick-fil-A sandwich and chases it down with a Starbucks coffee, does that person explode a la matter+antimatter annihilation?
posted by VikingSword at 4:13 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clearly, it's all about economics, and if it wasn't profitable, he'd be admitting that the bigots had a point. He never rejects bigotry at all!

I don't mean to come off too rude, but did you have a problem listening to the video or reading the transcript? The man repeats himself - this was not an economic decision. He explicitly states that "The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people." He then explicitly states his desire to embrace diversity. I mean, I'm spoon-feeding you highlights from the article.

Clearly, it's not all about economics. When you consider the fact that he's responding to a shareholder who claims that the bottom line is negatively affected by diversity, his response is, not only is it the right thing to do for our employees, but if you have a problem with our profit margins, feel free take a hike.

The rest is you turning what he said or didn't say into a pretzel. If you were expecting Schultz to say something stronger, like all bigots should sell their stock in Starbucks, I mean, that's dreamy and all.. I personally like where he stopped it. You're free to be a bigot in any way you want, it's just not going to be happening at my company. Have a nice day.
posted by phaedon at 4:46 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


So if somebody eats a Chick-fil-A sandwich and chases it down with a Starbucks coffee, does that person explode a la matter+antimatter annihilation?

It's more likely they'll just get explosive diarrhea.
posted by homunculus at 4:56 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I am envisioning is a New Yorker cartoon set in a dark alley where two shady characters swap a chick-fil-a bag for a coffee...maybe with a third character offering them a Big Gulp while looking over his shoulder.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, I'm spoon-feeding you highlights from the article.

You have to spoon-feed it, it's corporate pablum. But those aren't the highlights, that's literally all he said. He didn't say the rest of what you ascribe to him, you have to fill that in to make him sound better than he did.

You're free to be a bigot in any way you want, it's just not going to be happening at my company. Have a nice day.

Again, if he had called the dude a bigot, it would have been an awesome video. Since he didn't, I don't see it as that awesome.

Clearly Mefites should be writing Schultz's talking points.

Clearly, it's not all about economics.

Clearly, it is, which is why he spends twice as long bragging about his returns as he does "embracing diversity."
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:10 AM on March 25, 2013


I'm sure we all have our political leanings and it is easier for others to see them, plain as day. But just so you know, for me this isn't about politics, it's about giving a person a charitable read. I think the "filling in" I'm doing supports the general tone of the article, the audible clapping in the room, and the general take that what Schultz said at the time sounded definitively and unilaterally in support of gay rights.

So to me it's as if you're arbitrarily applying an already set in stone personal take on corporate shilldom and neutralizing anything that he has to say. Washing away really, anything of value that he might have touched upon, because of who he is, the rhythm of his speech, the number of seconds he used to describe his returns versus the number of seconds it takes to say the word "diversity," the fact that he didn't use the right buzz words, comparing what you wished he had said (or what you would have said if you were in a similar position, god help us) to what he actually said, etc.

I think your cynicism is entirely justified. Maybe not the best use of your time, but justified. It's just that on a human level, I don't think it's fair being so snarky to someone who is clearly saying something different than what you accuse him of actually thinking or meaning. I try not to employ such mental superpowers and/or openly testify to their perfection. I try to judge people based on what they say and what they do.
posted by phaedon at 9:56 AM on March 25, 2013


By the way, most of you know that many (not all) of my friends are more conservative in their leanings than the average Mefite. They are all having a holy conniption fit over this on Facebook and are vowing to quit going to Starbucks. Many of these are people who I know in the past have patronized them quite a bit. So I wonder if this is just a lot of noise or if this is going to affect their bottom line?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:48 PM on March 25, 2013


St. Alia of the Bunnies, Starbucks has been subject to all sorts of boycotts previously, including from various xtian groups and it hasn't seemed to affect their bottom line at all. Heck, they haven't even NOTICED my personal boycott, even though it's pretty obvious that I walk right by their store every work day drinking my lovely cuppa tea.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:50 PM on March 25, 2013


They are all having a holy conniption fit over this on Facebook and are vowing to quit going to Starbucks. Many of these are people who I know in the past have patronized them quite a bit. So I wonder if this is just a lot of noise or if this is going to affect their bottom line?

If there was a danger of that happening then this obviously craven CEO wouldn't have done what he did. That's the point. Your goofy Facebook friends literally don't matter anymore when it comes to this issue. We won. They lost.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:06 PM on March 25, 2013


Unlike me, these people haven't been paying any attention till now. As of last week, I have been subjected to tons of people posting how they are craving their Starbucks-this week, none of that and instead a lot of people saying-well, remember the chickfila brouhaha? My feed is blowing up just like that, only it's a different demographic.

You may be right, this may be teapot tempest time, but I'm just curious how this will all pan out. In my town at least we have good alternate coffee bars, which make better coffee anyway.

I personally hate that politics of any sort have to go into what commercial entities we buy from, but that's what money does, I guess.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:03 PM on March 25, 2013


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