It seems not all of Starbucks’ investors may agree with the liberal-leaning company’s political posturing.
At the coffee giant’s annual shareholders meeting, one investor seemed disturbed by the company’s recent vow to hire 10,000 refugees in a rebuttal to President Trump’s travel ban order, Yahoo News reported.
Justin Danhof from the National Center for Public Policy Research had the chutzpah to stand before other attendees and ask Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz why he announced his heart was “heavy” after Trump’s order but he did not speak out when the Obama administration stopped processing Iraq refugee visas for six months in 2011.
Danhof then directed two questions to Schultz.
I understand that as you said ‘not every decision is based on economics,’ but economics are a hard reality,” he said.
“So, the first question is how much will investors have to spend so that company can properly vet refugees that the federal government admits it can’t always afford to vet? And why were you willing to have Starbucks’ reputation take a beating by attacking President Trump’s executive order when you lacked the courage to speak out against Obama/Clinton travel ban,” Danhof queried, eliciting boos from the crowd.
Schultz began his response by declaring that he would first “remove the rhetoric” from the questions. He was met with applause from the audience.
“If there’s one message that I think, I hope, you came away with today it’s that none of the things we’ve tried to do as a company, which is based on humanity and compassion, is based on politics. But it’s based on principles and our core beliefs,” Schultz said.
He seemed offended by Danhof’s comparison of the company’s tone from one administration to another, repeating that “this is not about politics.”
“I can unequivocally tell you, ” Schultz went on, “that there’s zero, absolutely no evidence whatsoever, that there’s any dilution in the integrity of Starbucks brand, reputation, or core business as a result of being compassionate.”
The audience again erupted into applause.
But while the CEO refuted any political motivations behind the Seattle-based company’s recent moves, the plan to hire refugees and offering employees legal assistance at the company’s expense if they face issues under Trump’s travel ban has angered many, including Starbucks’ own customers.
A recent report showed the coffee chain’s brand image may have been affected by its refugee hiring announcement as it immediately faced a two-thirds drop in customer perception. Starbucks refuted that report earlier this month.
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