Now here’s something you don’t see in corporate America. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants to open talks with his employees in the wake of nationwide protests surrounding the police killings of unarmed black men Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo and Eric Garner from Staten Island, Ny. Last week, Schultz who is known for confronting political and social issues head on, held an impromptu meeting with employees at the company’s headquarters in Seattle. According to Time, Schultz wrote an open letter to employees about the protests where he remarked:
Like many of you these past weeks, I have watched with a heavy heart as tragic events and unrest have
unfolded across America, from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City to Oakland, California. Personally, I
am deeply saddened by what I have seen, and all too aware of the ripple effect. I have asked myself what it means not to be a bystander, as a citizen and as a Starbucks partner. What are our individual and collective responsibilities to our country, as well as to our own company? Last week, one thing became clear: we cannot continue to come to work every day aware of the difficult and painful experiences facing our nation, and not acknowledge them, together, as a company. Indeed, despite the raw emotion around the events and their underlying racial issues, we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about them internally. Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.
Schultz announced plans to hold similar open forums for employees across the country including, St. Louis, New York, and Oakland. Last month Schultz insisted investors companies must do more to help the communities they do business with. According to Schultz,
We do not claim to have solutions to our country’s complicated social issues. However, doing what is right for society and doing what is right for business cannot be mutually exclusive endeavors. While it is always safer to stand on the sidelines, that is not leadership.