Schultz, CEO of Starbucks – arguably the world’s most famous purveyor of coffee – decided to react to the racially-charged, violent incidents of the past few months in the United States.
“We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”
He decided to hold countrywide meetings for Starbucks employees to discuss the controversial deaths of African Americans in shootings in Ferguson, New York City and Oakland and their meanings to different segments of society.
At these meetings, employees conveyed their desire to continue the conversation with their customers and began a coordinated effort to do so. In New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Oakland and Los Angeles, baristas started writing “Race Together” on Starbucks cups, much as they have always written customers’ names. On March 16th, the company decided to ask all of its local branches, across the US, to do the same. Partners in many Starbucks stores in the US joined them on March 16. In addition to the unique cups, stickers and race relation-themed editions of USA Today will be available in select stores.
It seems like these are only the first steps in a concerted effort on the part of Starbucks to strike up a conversation about race in America – the next steps of the campaign are schedules to be discussed at the corporation’s 2015 annual shareholder meeting in Seattle.
Schultz added that Race Together is, “an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society – one conversation at a time.”