Starbucks, Jobs and Responsibility

I’m not a frequent customer of Starbucks but on occasion I do stop in one of the stores and have a brew of the day. It does seem, however, that Starbucks business model has always had the interest of those who grow their coffee and those who work in their stores at heart.

Last week I saw the founder and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, being interviewed on Morning Joe. The topic of conversation was a program the company started last year called      Create Jobs for USA. Starbucks kicked off the program with a $5 million donation and is asking other corporations to join them in helping to fund small start-up businesses around the nation. Google Offers and Banana Republic are the first corporations to join them and together they hope to raise $80 million for small business loans.

Metal plate reads "Indivisible."

One way of raising funds has been the sale of wrist bands similar to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong effort. Customers can purchase a red, white and blue, wrist band for $5 at any Starbucks store. The bands are manufactured in America using American raw materials (thus helping to create jobs) and all the proceeds go to helping fund new jobs creating businesses in this country.

Another action taken by Starbucks was the donation of two of their stores to community groups, one in California and the other in New York. The recipient groups now own and operate the stores and keep the profits.

Schultz stated that American corporations have to step forward and do their part in restoring the American economy and the American worker. He also believes that the corporate tax codes need to be lowered to a level that will attract offshore monies back to this nation. He suggested a 15% tax rate to any company who would return their part of the estimated $2 trillion now sheltered from American taxes overseas. The condition would be a guarantee that the monies would be used in a meaningful way to create sustainable jobs for Americans.

I don’t have a degree in business or finance but to my mind this is music to my ears. Too many times I have heard CEOs aver their primary responsibility is to their share holders. It was so refreshing to hear one speak of other meaningful obligations. I just may have to drink a little more of their brew from time to time.

4 thoughts on “Starbucks, Jobs and Responsibility”

  1. I will risk being called a pink-o socialist but I believe that American companies have a duty to the citizens and the country to keep the jobs here or bring them back. Why? Elizabeth Warren said it best: they may be rich and successful but they didn’t do it on their own. Everyone of those companies (and their owners) before they sold out overseas, relied on things supplied by American taxpayers. Roads to transport goods, infrastructure to build the business (electricity, water, telephone all paid for with tax dollars or by public money and consumers), American workers, scientists, technicians and so on, trained in American schools– many public– and paid for by– Tah Dah!– you and me, people. Where’d Steve Jobs go to school before he dropped out? It may have been a private college but you can be darn sure it got some federal and state (translate tax) money somewhere…you get my drift. None of us are in this alone and no one should be feeling like they are above the rest because they have made it “on their own.” Because they really have not.

    1. I just read this week that Elizabeth Warren has taken more money than Scott Brown during the last quarter and that the majority of it has come from out of state donors. Janet and I have sent her a couple of checks so far and it’s partly because of what you referred to above. She may not be from Ohio but she is firmly supportive of the middle-class and restoring it to health. I have several times heard Warren give a narrative of post New Deal history and her’s is lock step with mine.

  2. This is a great initiative – more USA companies should follow. There is a woman here in Mentor who started a company to make clothes especially for the unique body styles of people with Down syndrome, starting with a line of blue jeans. (www.DownsDesigns.com) She could not find one USA clothing manufacturer willing to make them and so had to turn to China for manufacturing. Sad.

    1. That’s pretty incredible. Especially if the volume significant. A thought… Greenfield Research probably has surplus sewing capacity since much of their seat cover business has been sent to Mexico and Central America. I don’t know if their equipment would be suitable for clothing but sewing denim might not be too much different than sewing upholstery. There’s got to be other companies with surplus capacity.

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