Howard Schultz on Corporations
He started at Starbucks in 1982 and served as chief executive from 1987 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017. He is leaving at a tumultuous moment in Starbucks' history [where Starbucks has ordered racial sensitivity training for all staff].
In a speech to Starbucks shareholders in 2016, Schultz said he feared that the opportunities that allowed him to achieve his American Dream--he grew up in subsidized housing in Brooklyn--have escaped the grasp of too many people. "The American Dream can't be only accessible to people of privilege who are white and live in the right zip code," he said.
To me, "corporate responsibility," the term President Clinton used for a conference of CEOs in May 1996, means that management must take good care of the people who do the work and show concern for the communities where they live.
So what about "social responsibility," the term used by companies that give a percentage of their earnings to charity, or sell organic products, or try to save the rain forest? We don't use that term to describe Starbucks' approach, though "contributing positively to our communities and our environment" has long been part of our mission.
Some shareholders think companies should not make any charitable contributions. But I have a different view. To reflect the collective values of our partners, we believe Starbucks as a company should support worthy causes in both the communities where our stores are located and the countries where our coffee is grown.
And what's small business? Ask the same focus group, and they may well give you a set of completely opposite reactions. Small business means hard-working people struggling to earn a living. Small-business owners are often well-intentioned and care about their customers.
Finally, if you ask: "How many big businesses act like small ones?" most people would answer: "Not very many." When we tell people that we're trying to build a big business on a foundation of small business values, many don't believe it. Either they assume we're incurable optimists or they begin looking for hidden agendas that would explain our REAL intentions.
One of Starbucks' greatest challenges is to try to break the mindset that big can't be good. If we don't, we'll lose the very values that attracted people to us in the first place.
The criticisms leveled against us crystallize a deeper issue: the growing fear about the homogenization of neighborhoods and towns. Most of the opposition we've encountered has been in close-knit urban areas or small towns, where people are highly protective of their distinctive character. They worry that national chains will displace locally owned stores and that fast food restaurants will elbow out the corner diner. A few groups have even prevented us from opening a store, by passing some ordinance or claiming insufficient parking.
We've noticed that whenever several coffee businesses locate near one another, customers flock there. In the end, all of us benefit. We want people to feel delighted and excited that we're in their neighborhood, not put upon. Our goal is to find communities that eagerly welcome us.
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Opinion Leaders on the Right:
Milton Friedman (Nobel Economist)
Rush Limbaugh (Radio Talk Show Host)
Ayn Rand (Author and Philosopher)
Heritage Foundation (Think Tank)
Joe Scarborough (Former Congressman; Radio Host)
Opinion Leaders on the Left:
American Civil Liberties Union
Noam Chomsky (Author and Philosopher)
Arianna Huffington (Internet Columnist)
Robert Reich (Professor and Columnist)
Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
John F. Kennedy(President,1961-1963)