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Starbucks CEO Schultz Calls for an End to Government ‘Irresponsibility and Dysfunction’

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is calling for an end to “irresponsibility and dysfunction” in Congressional political leadership, as the government shutdown lingers. In an open letter to business leaders, Schultz makes little attempt to veil his political affiliations, writing:

Please join me in pleading for civility and a respectful, honest discourse among politicians to bring a solution to the current stalemate. I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But, I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution. We have to do what we can to mitigate and avoid the unintended consequences that the current political direction is leading the country and world toward.  Let’s start by pushing for solutions and speaking out against posturing and blaming. The humanity and conscience of our country depends on it.

howard schultz makes statement on government shutdown

Howard Schultz speaks to reporters in Vancouver. Creative Commons photo by Richard Erikkson

Highly political statements have been coming regularly from the 60-year-old coffee titan, a rarity for most heads of publicly traded companies. Last month, Schultz announced an official Starbucks store policy banning guns from its U.S. stores after the company had become a battle ground for open-carry advocates. And in March, Schultz publicly responded to allegations from anti-same-sex marriage groups that he was leading a “corporate assault on marriage.” When a shareholder suggested that Schultz’ voiced support of same-sex marriage was hurting business, Schutz infamously replied, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Following is Schultz’s letter on the government shutdown in full:

Dear Friends:

Like so many of you, I find myself utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership. This weekend I heard from several business leaders who shared their concern about our relative silence and impact in urging the political leadership to act on behalf of the citizenry. I hope you share my view that it is our responsibility to address the crisis of confidence that is needlessly being set in motion. I’d like to encourage you to consider what your companies and organizations can do to help shift the norms of our country back toward civility, compromise and problem-solving.

At Starbucks, we are planning actions in the coming weeks to galvanize our customers, inspire our people and encourage the communities we serve to come together to take care of each other. In uncertain moments such as these, it is time for us as citizens and business leaders to remind our employees and customers that we stand with them. Perhaps through these actions, we can remind the Congress and the President of their duty to put citizenship over partisanship for the sake of our country and the world at large.

Please join me in pleading for civility and a respectful, honest discourse among politicians to bring a solution to the current stalemate. I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But, I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution. We have to do what we can to mitigate and avoid the unintended consequences that the current political direction is leading the country and world toward.  Let’s start by pushing for solutions and speaking out against posturing and blaming. The humanity and conscience of our country depends on it.

I am eager to hear your thoughts and ideas on what else we can do together to move us past this crisis in leadership.

Respectfully,

Howard Schultz

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