Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz has pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the wake of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, according to CNN Money. The ban, which prevents all travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, has provoked outrage across the world and social media and has prompted boycotts of companies which are or appear to be supporting the ban, notably Uber. Schultz plans to step down as Starbucks’ CEO in April, and noted that Kevin Johnson, heir to his position, shared his views.
Schultz also reiterated his company’s intent “to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families” should any proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions, or taxes impact them.
Schultz stated the company’s intent in a company-wide memo issued to employees Sunday night.
“I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise.”
“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.”
He went on to say that Starbucks’ effort would begin in the United States, with refugees who had previously served with American troops as interpreters and support personnel, when the U.S. military had asked for local support.
The entire memo runs to over 1,200 words; Schultz expressed his sympathy with Starbucks employees decrying the “attack” on “the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long,” adding that the company would not stand idly by or remain silent about their opinion of the new administration’s policies.
Born to a Jewish Army veteran, Schultz’s message resonated with genuine emotion one day after Trump’s White House omitted any mention of Jewish people from their remarks on Holocaust Day, a decision that, according to the Times Of Israel, they said was intended to be inclusive and that they had no regrets over. Schultz referenced the fact that many of the people included in the ban were “refugees fleeing wars,” invoking another time in history that America refused to accept refugees, and the consequences thereof.
“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.”
The memo included a list of “specific actions” that Starbucks would be taking which are directly relevant to the Trump administration’s policies: support for DACA (the so-called “Dreamers” act,) the commitment to hire refugees, their intention of “building bridges, not walls, with Mexico,” and Starbucks’ continued commitment to ensure that their employees would remain eligible for benefits and healthcare through Starbucks in the wake of concerns of the ACA being repealed.
Perhaps predictably, Starbucks’ announcement has prompted an outpouring of responses on social media, both supportive and in backlash against. Many have said that they will be seeking to support Starbucks more – others have threatened boycott.
Good news: Starbucks dvlpng plans to hire 10k refugees worldwide. Initial focus on fmr interpreters for US troops. https://t.co/71RUjgxcJE
— Rajiv Chandrasekaran (@rajivscribe) January 29, 2017
— RNR North Carolina (@RNRNCarolina) January 29, 2017
Many also seem to have missed the fact that Starbucks intends to hire these refugees across the 75 nations they do business in, not just in America.
Schultz closed his letter with a message of inclusiveness.
“We are in business to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time – whether that neighborhood is in a Red State or a Blue State; a Christian country or a Muslim country; a divided nation or a united nation. That will not change. You have my word on that.”
[Featured Image by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]