On Jan. 29, the Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, crafted a letter in response to President Trump’s recent executive order, which temporarily prohibits people from seven different countries from entering the United States. The statement announced that the company will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.
Schultz shared this letter, “Living Our Values in Uncertain Times,” with all Starbucks partners and posted it on the company’s public website. He began with stating his honest reaction to the executive order, noting the current political climate and social tension.
“I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise,” Schultz said. “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.”
Schultz clearly stated his goals and expectations for the company, leaving little room for compromise.
“We are doubling down on this commitment…to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination,” Schultz said.
Schultz did not just single out refugees, but made it clear that he stands in support of hiring U.S. troops and other military persons in the various countries where Starbucks does business. He stated that the troops were the “initial focus of our hiring efforts.”
Starbucks operates stores in 75 countries, so Schultz’s words reached far beyond the borders of the United States. As the letter spread across the internet, it ignited a variety of reactions.
Zachary Cox, a current Starbucks employee and senior sociology major at APU, was initially shocked at the announcement but supportive of Schultz’s strong political voice.
“People have a right to say how they feel,” Cox said. “And I think it is cool that they are trying to give back and make openings for these people coming in.”
The neatly organized letter did not end with its new hiring agenda; Schultz had a few more announcements and updates he wished to share.
He went on to discuss the company’s support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), the continued investment of their stores in Mexico and the healthcare promise they plan to keep for their partners.
Travis Martinez, a junior business major and frequent Starbucks customer, values the honesty in the company and is in support of their decision to hire refugees.
“If anything, this announcement makes me value Starbucks as a company even more because I can tell they are not only interested in the happiness of the general population, but even the happiness of its employees,” Martinez said.
Just two days after Schultz made this announcement, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks arose on Twitter. Many Trump supporters spoke out against the coffee company, disagreeing with their decision to give jobs to refugees.
Both Cox and Martinez agree that now more than ever companies should take public political stances.
“When a company takes a stance on anything, it gives opportunity for consumers to support or disapprove of their stance,” Martinez said. “There will always be positive and negative consequences to these political stances.”
This is not Schultz’s first time reacting to Trump or taking a public political stand.
After Trump’s White House victory in November, Schultz issued a statement to his partners saying he was shocked at the results, but ultimately called for Americans to unite and rise above together.
Starbucks and Trump supporters have butted heads more than once during this past election season. Earlier in 2016, the hashtag #TrumpCup started, a trend intended to force Starbucks employees to shout the name “Trump” when a drink order was ready.
Schultz closed his most recent letter by making a promise to his partners that the company will hold onto its values and continue to “inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”