Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has some harsh words for those who oppose marriage equality, and when challenged, he refused to budge on speculation about a pro-gay rights stance affecting stock prices.
Schultz’s comments on marriage equality come as the Starbucks CEO also spoke out to voice support for a minimum wage increase. Earlier this week, the coffee chain head talked about the challenges posed to business by a minimum wage, but seemed to think it was the only ethical way forward.
“On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going u. We’ve got to be very careful what we wish for because some employers — and there could be a lot of them — will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up.”
The Starbucks CEO’s marriage equality stance seems to be part of a larger progressive kick, and the issue of gay marriage is one that has been known to divert customers to or from national chains in recent months — as seen in the Chick-Fil-A debacle last summer.
While support for marriage equality is increasing in America, the issue is still contentious — but when it comes to the bottom line, Schultz says, “not every decision is an economic decision.”
The Starbucks CEO made the marriage equality comments in a shareholder discussion Wednesday, in response to shareholder Tom Strobhar. Strobhar told Schultz that anti-gay rights customers may be turned off by Starbucks pro-marriage equality stance, and noted that “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”
Schultz replied, telling Strobhar that “respectfully,” if he feels he can “get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country.” The CEO continued:
“You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”