Starbucks CEO Doubles Down on Gay-Marriage Support, Telling Shareholder to Sell Stake if He Doesn’t Like Views

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz reaffirmed the company’s support for same-sex marriage, telling shareholders that it’s not an economic decision

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Ted S. Warren / AP

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the company's annual meeting of shareholders on March 20, 2013, in Seattle

Howard Schultz, the outspoken CEO of global coffee chain Starbucks, calmly but firmly defended his company’s support of same-sex marriage last week at a shareholder meeting.

In response to a challenge from a shareholder that the company’s support of same-sex marriage was hurting the company’s stock price, Schultz explained that it’s not about the bottom line but about “respecting diversity,” according to KPLU-FM, a local affiliate of NPR.

Last year, the Seattle-based company openly supported Washington state’s referendum that legalized same-sex marriage. As a result, the National Organization for Marriage launched a boycott of the coffee giant. During the company’s annual meeting in Seattle last week, shareholder Tom Strobhar spoke up, suggesting that the boycott was affecting the company’s stock value: “In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a little disappointing,” he said.

(MORE: Starbucks’ Big Mug)

Schultz shot back that Starbucks’ endorsement of marriage equality wasn’t bad for business:

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.

But Schultz was quick to underscore that it wasn’t even an economic decision to support gay rights. It was simply right for its people. “The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity,” he retorted.

The heated exchange between Schultz and Strobhar came shortly after shareholders voted for the company’s board to make political contributions. Board members said they wanted the flexibility to promote the company’s policy agenda, the Daily Mail noted.

Starbucks, which last year boasted nearly 18,000 retail stores in 60 countries with plans to continue growing, endorsed the Washington state bill to legalize gay marriage, and released a statement at the time saying it was “deeply dedicated to embracing diversity,” the Huffington Post reported. The bill later became law.

In his five years as CEO, Schultz has taken on a unique role as a political activist, launching campaigns calling for political finance reform and corporate social responsibility. In December, amid the “fiscal cliff” squabbling on Capitol Hill, Schultz asked all D.C.-area Starbucks locations to write “Come Together” on coffee cups in hopes of percolating an agreement.

VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Announces Support for Gay Marriage

303 comments
WilliamFavreSlaterIII
WilliamFavreSlaterIII

It is plain to see that Starbucks' leadership, starting with its CEO zealously respects and defends the rights of gays and lesbians and those who wish to be in same sex marriages.   What if the server had banished a same sex couple that was publicly kissing in their store?

For many years, I was in military training programs (Civil Air Patrol, Army ROTC, and Air Force ROTC), and then served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.  I remember very well what it was like to be unpopular in civilian society and to be ridiculed and misunderstood for my service.  I will never let that happen again.  


There are 23 million veterans, and about 1.4 million men and women in uniform.  If you count the family and friends of these people, Starbucks has upset a significant number of Americans.  


If they cannot also respect and defend the rights of veterans and U.S. Military Service members, then they do not deserve our business.

TravisPittman
TravisPittman

Sounds like Starbucks has become a lobbyist. I support marriage equality but despise special interest groups that try to push a narrative. I won't be purchasing anything Starbucks from here on out.

WayneU
WayneU

I know this article is old, but I'm just now seeing it online.  I think there are a few things that are both interesting and worth thinking about. 

 #1.  I learned long ago that a CEO's fiduciary responsibility is to his shareholders, not to "respecting diversity." 

 #2  I wonder what the demographics of the 200,000 employees in the US are.  I'm sure there are many that are not in agreement with starbucks' stance on gay marriage.  And even if that percentage were to be less than 1% it still shows up in the company's "lens". 

#3 If you agree with "Howard Schultz, the outspoken CEO of global coffee chain Starbucks" or disagree is really irrelevant.  The true power is found in your wallet and where you decide to buy your next coffee.


AntoniaPaker
AntoniaPaker

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BillyFrady
BillyFrady

As a CWP, Starbucks has stood for the rights of the second amendment and I am very  happy about that. I have also heard Starbucks supported gay rights. Ok I have no problem with that. However the CEO went as far as to say if a customer doesn't support gay rights then they don't want there business, This went to far, a lot of people are torn over this because the religion says it a sin, yet it is legal. I don't object to it , I will not speak against there rights , but I will not speak for it or support it , I don't think that if it goes against some ones beliefs that they shouldn't be made to support something they don't believe in. I understand that under the law they needed protection so that they could get insurance and other death benefits. But to go to the point of forcing some one to support something is not right. people have a right to support what they want , not to force others to think the same way as them.

DenisDeeborn
DenisDeeborn

@BillyFrady I'm sorry to say that the claim that people are torn simply due to religion is false. That's what the liberal media preached and teaches, that's what the gay agenda want you to believe. Fact is, many none religious people are against the gay lifestyle because there is something in most human beings that simply reject it because they feel in their hearts and know it is inherently wrong. In 2013, a group of Psychologists in Europe conducted a study that included 20 families from all religious and none religious backgrounds with the exception of Christianity and anything related to Christianity. The children were all aged from 6-9. They came from those raised in Wicca, Atheist, Agnostics, Buddhist etc, etc.... The parents were married, living together or single. They were given 3 picture books, each on showing the same thing except one book was a man and woman, the other, 2 men, and the last 2 females. They depicted the man and woman walking together, holding hands, giving one another a hug, kissing on the lips and the last page was a wedding. In all 20 cases, the children, when given the book with the same sex, rejected it. Over 70% of the children rejected it as soon as they seen the "kissing on the lips" of same sex. Out of the 20 children, 13 of them were in tears and crying expressing that they wanted to go home and that they didn't like the books depicting same sex kissing. Other children made statements such as "ew, gross", "that's wrong", "I don't like this", "why are they doing this" etc, etc.... The fact is, these children were all violated by the same sex pictorial books trying to force them to accept the homosexual lifestyle. Oh yeah, almost forgot. The reason why no Christians were involved in this study? Because the Psychologists wanted to prove that the LBGT claim that Christians are homophobes and any child raised in a Christian home was going to be homophobic were completely unfounded and false. They proved this without question. You see, children are innocent. They do not know anything about sexual desire at that young of age yet they have a moral compass that is built into each and every human being. This study was rejected, scoffed at and refused to become published in Psychological Journals in the US, UK, and several other gay sympathetic countries and can you guess why? Because not only did the study prove that the gay communities claim concerning all those evil Christians was nothing more than a tail of intolerant fabrications, but it also demonstrated that the past 200 years of Psychological research and that research leading to the APA Diagnosis handbook that stated homosexuality as being a Psychological Disorder once again demonstrated validity and that validity is the rejection from those of every upbringing.

BeeDeesTweeties
BeeDeesTweeties

@TIME a repeat from March, but SBUX being a leader on doing what's right.Thanks H. Schultz! Waiting patiently for your your political run...

lathropmd
lathropmd

Wow! Talk about proponents of diversity. To flagantly endorse homosexuality and gay marriage which is clearly against God's word, not to mention the natural order of things, then out of the other side of your mouth not allow visible tatoos? What a hypocrite!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it's OK to hire people that are rotten on the inside (yeah, I said it, call me a hater, but I speak the truth in love.), but not hire someone who has a personal artistic expression on their skin? Where is the equity, much less common sense in that? The gay life style he endorses has nothing to do with a business decision, but is an attempt to legitimize a lifestyle that is an abomination to our Creator.

No more Starbucks for me or my friends.

pogoplaya1916
pogoplaya1916

@ChristianSmith @Kenrae @lathropmd Actually this as nothing to do with "taking a look on the inside".  This whole debate is about the redefinition of marriage.  Marriage has always been defined as the union between a man and a woman.  I don't care if two women and two men want to sleep with each other.  That is there choice and there preference.  I will not hold it against them.  However, I think it is absolutely intolerable to redefine what marriage is and quite frankly I am not sure why it is even a big deal.  If gay couples want to fight for the same "benefits" as married couples, than that is what they should fight for.  But DO NOT call it marriage! 

ChristianSmith
ChristianSmith

@pogoplaya1916 @ChristianSmith @Kenrae @lathropmd But if there's nothing wrong with people having homosexual relationships, then what's the big deal about redefining marriage? You say it's a choice and preference who you want to sleep with, but then can't get married? so where do you draw the line? either it's wrong, or it isn't. to say that it isn't wrong, but say they can't get married is discrimination by definition. to say that homosexuality is wrong, and base the decision of whether they should get married on that isn't discrimination. you don't' call it discrimination if you say a murderer is doing wrong. Why? because they're doing wrong. plain and simple. so this issue is totally based on what people believe about God, this isn't an issue of preference. you have to draw a line morally, or anything can go.

ChristianSmith
ChristianSmith

@Kenrae @lathropmd Um, you say "shouldn't we look on the inside as to what kind of person they are, their character, their moral values, etc.?". That is exactly what this discussion is whole debate is about, moral values. My "moral values" say that homosexuality is wrong. Why? because my Creator (who you said doesn't care about what we do in bed, maybe you should look into that further) said that it was wrong. 

The underlying question here is actually whether God exists or not. And if He does, does he care what we do. Honestly, we can throw insults at each other all day, but no progress will be made in agreeing with one another until we agree on that point. I also know that probably neither of us will be compromising our beliefs any time soon, I know I won't be. So instead of debating this on the internet, which doesn't accomplish anything, we should all just look more into whether or not there is an authority that says homosexuality is wrong. If there is, we shouldn't do it, if there isn't we should do whatever we want. But basing your decision on your own desire for pleasure isn't going to turn out well.

TommyTomdollar
TommyTomdollar

Here is the point and it is not a religious point, it is a point of logic in our "created" society. : Schultz has gotten away from business. He is now stating that, unknown to me, I once a stock holder, once a patron of Starbucks was helping Schultz covertly with his endeavors with homosexuals. He is using his business i.e, Starbucks for his own personal perversions regardless of the thousands of others within (employees) and outside (customers)  Starbucks. Christian or not the perspective is "perversion" and is perversion as perversion is, business perversion. There is nothing natural about it.
Speaking of natural nature.
Ah, the love of a woman for a man, how nature and true. The love of a man for a woman, how natural and true.  A man wrapped around a woman, a woman wrapped around a man in mutual love and adoration. Why, they (the heterosexuals) can even have children in that loved and hopefully matrimonial commitment, something homosexual cannot create in the least by nature naturally.. 

If it wasn't for the heterosexuals there would be no homosexuals. The homosexuals owe the heterosexual everything even their lives. And yet two homosexuals could never create a heterosexual, alas, the species dies out, no matter how much they (homosexuals) hump each other, nature is the truest witness against the homosexuals and their life style.

So now back to Schultz and he using money, his money? Starbucks share holder's money? My money from purchasing Starbucks coffee, espresso or latte and also for the discounted covert price bought his political perspective? I am, you are paying Schultz's wages and we are also buying his political perspective and his perverted business actions. Schultz, that was not in the original business deal, you Schultz have used many (most) persons wrongly. Schultz, you are suppose to be in the business of coffee beans and beverages to sell to the public with no statement needed other than that....  So long Starbucks...

TommyTomdollar
TommyTomdollar

Schultz has obviously gone off the deep end. Instead of keeping his nose to the grind he now has it up somebody's behind. My shares are sold and no more Starbucks of any kind. Schultz, you are in business to sell beans, not political issues.

ElioCoradin
ElioCoradin

Huston , We got a Big Problem:..."For this cause God gave them up unto vile affection: For even their women change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their LUST one toward another; men with men working that is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their ERROR which was meet" (Romans 1:26-27).  What Cause? verse 21: Because that, when they new God, they glorify Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imagination, and their foolish heart was darkened.   Big problem, ah! But He has BLOOD, for that ERROR, The BLOOD of His Son: JESUS.

RuthRagpala
RuthRagpala

The "diversity" Howard Schultz is talking is not new. Embracing this kind of "diversity" was the reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

This headline reminded me of when I worked at dell computer and some idiot threatened to take his business elsewhere. Dell only had five million customers at the time, as I made certain to point out to him.

TheresaRivera
TheresaRivera

Now why in the hell would Starbucks even get involved or even making such a statement,  why? there business is making gourmet 

coffee. Is this there way on drawing more customers, because if it is well this sucks.  Not everyone likes Starbucks coffee,  I don't even

drink the stuff.

 


ryka797
ryka797

"Respect diversity" but oddly, what they don't respect is the "diversity" of opinions.

sfjetland
sfjetland

Nice to see Starbucks standing up for its employees... im not a fan of their coffee, but i am a fan of their stance!

DonEwald
DonEwald

This customer is going to stop going to Starbucks. There is a local coffee shop that has better coffee anyway. And besides Peets Coffee is probably better also!!!!!! See ya wouldn't want ta be ya!!!!! Bye Starbucks!!!!!

LadeeDianeCampbell
LadeeDianeCampbell

Well thank god I drink Dunkin DOnuts. Starbucks can F off. I dont have to support gay marriage or anything else I dont want to support SO lick me.  Their coffee sucks anyhow

SharonDaRocha
SharonDaRocha

@TIME everybody deserves the right to get married and be happy. Well done on you Starbucks!!!!

Galapagos_Gal
Galapagos_Gal

Homosexuality is an evolutionary nightmare. Taken to extremes, it would herald the extinction of the human race.

RembaManhey
RembaManhey

I am glad to see Starbucks returning to embracing its company-wide motto, "embrace diversity". Many many years ago I worked for Starbucks and ended up being fired because my hair was purple. Way to embrace diversity. Since then I have boycotted Starbucks for its unfair employment practices. I see now they are starting to take note to what it really means. Supporting the people of community and not a single community of people is a huge difference and quite frankly Starbucks has a hook on people and even if many do not like to support gay marriage, when they are in need of coffee, they will still spend $6 a cup there. Thank you for the support!

JeffRKurtzman
JeffRKurtzman

Thank you Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, i applaud you!

I have been an avid Starbucks Customer for YEARS

AmyGKC
AmyGKC

RT @TIME: Starbucks CEO to shareholder: If you don't like our support of same-sex marriage, sell your shares | ti.me\/ZQiVfXKEh

daisybuttercup
daisybuttercup

A misleading and dangerous title.  He did not tell the stockholder to sell his shares if he didn't like their views.  Shame on you Time.   

_RockyFive
_RockyFive

@mestrada lol, you should give up. Gay is here to stay, it won't just go away. You can't stay a homophob forever

isaacirivera
isaacirivera

@LuisHBeltran Gracias Pastor! =) la verda no estaba enterado. Pero vamos hacer boycott mundial mente.... =)