On Monday, Starbucks announced that their current executive chairman Howard Schultz will be stepping down and moving on to greater things. Schultz has been with Starbucks for the last 36 years and is notably one of the most politically outspoken business executives to date. The New York Times reports from a recent interview done with Schultz that he may be contemplating a run for the White House. While the final decision still rests with him and his statements have mentioned “public service,” he has yet to come out and state that the presidency is his end goal.
A Democratic Party Savior?
This isn’t Schultz’s first time at the rodeo. In the past he has been rumored to have been a potential Democratic Party candidate. In 2016 he notably endorsed Hillary Clinton, but in February of that same year, Washington Times reported his statements on the “lack of dignity” in the presidential campaign. According to CNN, in the summer of 2017, President Trump was on the receiving end of his ire for the president’s statements on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. His outspokenness and bravery are rare talents to be seen on the political landscape in this day and age. If Schultz were to be given the nod to run for president, he might even be able to turn the fortunes of the struggling Democratic Party.
Social and Corporate Responsibility
Schultz has always been an advocate for social responsibility, not just of the individual, but of the company he helmed as well. Under his direction, Starbucks has been an industry leader in worker benefits. Schultz’s tenure started in 1982, and by 1988, Starbucks was offering health care coverage to both full-time and part-time employees, a tradition that still carries on today, according to their website. CNN reports that Starbucks’ social stances have even gone as far as stating that they intended to hire as many as 10,000 refugees over the course of the next five years, spitting in the eye of the president’s anti-immigration stance. Starbucks was at the center of a controversy in April when alleged racial profiling resulted in two black men being arrested for loitering at a local Starbucks. In response, the chain closed its stores temporarily to offer lessons on racial bias to its employees.
Schultz has shown that he’s among the few corporate heads that operate like his employees matter while at the same time maintaining an impressive bottom line for investors. Seattle Pi published an email Schultz sent to Starbucks employees, where he stated that “I still feel like a kid from Brooklyn who grew up in public housing,” going on to remind his former employees that the American dream shouldn’t exist only to those who are already in a position to exploit it. While Schultz’s future in politics is still unsure, the employees of Starbucks are unlikely to forget “the Kid from Brooklyn” any time soon.