Beware Before You Share: Starbucks, Worldviews, and Jumping to Conclusions

Across the Facebook landscape, I came across a ‘share’ in my newsfeed that said, “Starbucks CEO: If You Support Traditional Marriage, We Don’t Want Your Business.”  In fact, many others who are friends of mine brought this to my attention, with the understanding that if this is what Starbucks believes and thinks, we shall take our business elsewhere. (I confess, I even forwarded this article before I read the whole thing.)

But let’s notice something about this article.

  1. The title in the headline by Victor Medina (at the website “Restoring Liberty: Published by Joe Miller) does not contain quotes, meaning that Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, did not say this.  This serves as an example of journalists who use this tactic to get traffic.  It worked.  But the problem is, Schultz did not say this exactly.  Beware of jumping to conclusions.
  2. As you read the article, which links to the original Forbes.com article, you see that, yes, Schultz does hold to the same-sex ‘marriage’ agenda, we see the true thrust of the article.  Schultz was confronted by a shareholder who had a problem with Schultz gay ‘marriage’ stance, and this led to a decline in profits.  The article points to a Huffington Post article noting that the shareholder, Tom Strobhar, the founder of the anti-gay marriage Corporate Morality Action Center.  The article does not say whether Strobhar’s issue was with the moral stance or the financial profits (or lack thereof).
  3. In response, Schultz gives the figures, acknowledging the boycott by Starbucks customers and the affect it had on profits.  But he went on:  ““Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38% shareholder return over the last year. I don’t know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38% over the last 12 months. Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. 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. Of all kinds.”
  4. At the end of the day, Schultz response was to this particular shareholder and all shareholders, concluding:  “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.”  I hope you can see that this is different than saying, “Traditional marriage advocates are not welcomed at Starbucks.”  He’s saying, “This is where we stand.  If you are investing in this company and do not agree with this stance, you are welcomed to invest elsewhere.”  This is in essence what traditional marriage advocate companies such as Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, and Domino’s say as well–this is where they stand.

Regardless of which side of the argument you are on, we must beware before you share. Take time to read through an article before you jump to conclusions.  If Howard Schultz’s stand is something you as a consumer do not agree with, sure, let them know with your patronage (or lack thereof) where you stand.  And he is doubling down on his stance in this matter.

Let’s just make sure we are conveying accurately what’s being said so we have the whole picture.

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