One of the many things I love about Starbucks is their community involvement and charity work; more than most other big corporations, they try to do some good while also trying to make stacks of money.
Last week Starbucks earned even more karma points. Here's their CEO Howard Schultz at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Seattle (and by the way, his business book Onward from a couple of years ago is a fantastic read).
Starbucks has long provided benefits for same-sex families and endorsed marriage equality.
At the meeting, shareholder Tom Strobhar, who advocates against same-sex marriage through the Corporate Morality Action Center, said he was unhappy that Schultz has used the company to support gay marriage and claimed it had impacted the stock price.
The reply from Schultz? "It’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company."
The shareholder made his remark after the board was given approval by a vote to make political contributions, with board members saying they wanted flexibility to promote the company’s policy agenda.
The CEO told the shareholder that the company was committed to embracing diversity. 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.
His comments prompted cheers and applause from the gathered stockholders and then the CEO offered the discontented stockholder a way out...
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.
Wowza, Mr Schultz, I am impressed!