Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message of his support for gay marriage at the annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in Seattle, telling an investor if he disagrees he should sell his shares and invest in some other company.
The shareholder, Tom Strobhar, founder of Corporate Morality Action Center, complained that Starbucks lost customers because of its support for gay marriage, pointing to “disappointing” earnings in the first full quarter after a boycott last year by the National Organization for Marriage.
Schultz responded that “not every decision is an economic decision,” and pointed to a 38 percent shareholder return over the last year, according to Forbes.
In saying the company wants “to embrace diversity,” Schultz added amid applause:
“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 in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
There is some history between the two men, as Strobhar asked Schultz at last year’s shareholders meeting to stop endorsing liberal issues because they were bad for business, as reported by Yahoo.
And while this intolerance for opposing gay marriage was directed at one of its investors, one has to wonder if it also extends to the paying customer?
Starbucks Howards Schultz on gay marriage (Video)