Starbucks launched a campaign last week to start a global discussion on racism by writing the words “Race Together” on its distinguished post-consumer cups.
Unfortunately, by the end of last week, the campaign came to a screeching halt. Turns out people were more steamed about this topic than the milk at the espresso bar.
In a short documentary posted by Starbucks March 18, CEO Howard Schultz said in an open forum, “I don't feel candidly that just staying quiet as a company and staying quiet in this building is who we are and who I want us to be …” in regard to society’s uproar on unsatisfactory “equality.”
The discussion he started among his fellow Starbucks partners was meant to create a way for his company to promote unity in society. He was also hoping the baristas could potentially initiate conversation with the customers. Schultz saw this dialogue as a companywide mandate.
According to Starbucks’ website, many of the partners claimed the forum was “the most emotional, powerful discussion they’ve ever been a part of.”
The object of the movement was great; personally, I believe raising attention to this issue was, dare I say, courageous and much needed.
The company is receiving backlash and praises left and right since the campaign was cut after a single week. Yet, I think this wave of negativity is only common because people are too afraid to agree with them.
At least Starbucks is willing to stick their hands up and say, “This is an issue.” Why spend so much time tearing apart the Starbucks organization when other businesses won’t recognize this epidemic? I applaud Starbucks for taking a stand and understanding how much power it holds in society.
Schultz released a statement on his website March 22 saying, “Our objective from the very start of this effort – dating back to our first open forum in Seattle last December – was to stimulate conversation, empathy and compassion toward one another and then to broaden that dialogue beyond just our Starbucks family to the greater American public by using our scale for good.”
They aren’t doing this out of self-ambition, but out of selflessness. They want to promote a dialogue, and I can see why. Almost every big news story for the last couple months has involved inequality and hate for races of all kinds. To start a conversation is huge; to start a conversation is incredible.
People need to not only open their mouths, but certainly their ears also. It’s time to talk.
Schultz is obviously a great businessman, but I believe he is a great person too. Sure, almost every big-name news industry is still shredding his hashtag to bits, but I think a couple more people need to stand behind him. Maybe this particular campaign wasn’t the best approach to his audience, but I know he isn’t giving up.
Choose to be open to this discussion. Decide to race together.