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Starbucks Doubles Down on Brand Loyalty in the Face of Trump’s Executive Orders

Howard Schultz has always been a visionary and innovator in creating peerless brand loyalty during his impressive career at Starbucks.

Although Schultz is stepping down as CEO at Starbucks on April 3, 2017−to be succeeded by current president and COO Kevin Johnson−on Sunday he wrote a letter to all employees regarding many issues connected to President Trump’s recent executive orders.

“I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart, and a resolute promise,” the letter says. “Let me begin with the news that is immediately in front of us: we have all been witness to the confusion, surprise, and opposition to the Executive Order that President Trump issued on Friday, effectively banning people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, including refugees fleeing wars. I can assure you that our Partner Resources team has been in direct contact with the partners who are impacted by this immigration ban, and we are doing everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period.”

Schultz adds: “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question. These uncertain times call for different measures and communication tools than we have used in the past. Kevin and I are going to accelerate our commitment to communicating with you more frequently, including leveraging new technology platforms moving forward.  I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners.”

In response to Trump’s executive order that suspends admission of any refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and bans entry for 90 days of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, Schultz wrote the following in his letter:

“We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world,” he wrote. “This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination. There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.  And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”    

About Trump’s bid to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Schultz wrote: “We have been open for business in Mexico since 2002, and have since opened almost 600 stores in 60 cities across the country, which together employ over 7,000 Mexican partners who proudly wear the green apron. We have sourced coffee from Mexico’s producers and their families for three decades and last fall we also announced the creation of a farmer support center in Chiapas to help accelerate our collective ability to grow and export some of the world’s finest coffees from this important growing region, while donating more than $2 million to support the livelihood, food security and water quality of coffee producing communities in Oaxaca. With the support of thousands of Starbucks partners and millions of customers, we have also donated over a million coffee trees to support 70,000 families, and we will be expanding the initiative this year to generate another 4 million tree donations. Coffee is what unites our common heritage, and as I told Alberto Torrado, the leader of our partnership with Alsea in Mexico, we stand ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans.  But we will continue to invest in this critically important market all the same.”

Schultz concluded his letter with the following: “So, while we seek to understand what the new Administration’s policies mean for us and our business both domestically and around the world, I can assure you that we will do whatever it takes to support you, our partners, to realize your own dreams and achieve your own opportunities. We are in business to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time – whether that neighborhood is in a Red State or a Blue State; a Christian country or a Muslim country; a divided nation or a united nation. That will not change. You have my word on that.”

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