Starbucks CEO’s open letter to America
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has published an open letter on the company website, calling for the government shutdown be resolved respectfully, dubbing the situation a “crisis in leadership.”
“I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But, I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution,” Schultz stated.
Before publishing the letter, Schultz emailed the letter to various American executives, encouraging their involvement in speaking out against the government shutdown.
“I’d like to encourage you to consider what your companies and organizations can do to help shift the norms of our country back towards civility, compromise and problem solving,” Schultz added. “In uncertain moments such as these, it is time for us as citizens and business leaders to remind our employees and customers that we stand with them.”
Activism as part of the brand’s identity
Schultz, like a growing number of enterprise executives, often makes his opinions public on political issues, but unlike others, his tone is rarely inflammatory, typically calling for civility and respectful resolutions, as he has in this case. As such, he is a mouthpiece for the company, which helps and hurts the brand, depending on which issue du jour he happens to be opining on at the time.
He is, however, strong in his position, telling shareholders last year that if they don’t like it, they can take a hike. “If you feel respectfully you can get a higher return [than] the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares at Starbucks and buy shares in other companies.”
Full letter from Schultz:
Like so many of you, I find myself utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership. This weekend I heard from several business leaders who shared their concern about our relative silence and impact in urging the political leadership to act on behalf of the citizenry. I hope you share my view that it is our responsibility to address the crisis of confidence that is needlessly being set in motion. I’d like to encourage you to consider what your companies and organizations can do to help shift the norms of our country back toward civility, compromise and problem-solving.
At Starbucks, we are planning actions in the coming weeks to galvanize our customers, inspire our people and encourage the communities we serve to come together to take care of each other. In uncertain moments such as these, it is time for us as citizens and business leaders to remind our employees and customers that we stand with them. Perhaps through these actions, we can remind the Congress and the President of their duty to put citizenship over partisanship for the sake of our country and the world at large.
Please join me in pleading for civility and a respectful, honest discourse among politicians to bring a solution to the current stalemate. I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But, I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution. We have to do what we can to mitigate and avoid the unintended consequences that the current political direction is leading the country and world toward. Let’s start by pushing for solutions and speaking out against posturing and blaming. The humanity and conscience of our country depends on it.
I am eager to hear your thoughts and ideas on what else we can do together to move us past this crisis in leadership.