HRC Blog

Starbucks CEO Defends Company’s Support of Marriage Equality

Starbucks LogoStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz refused to budge on the company’s steadfast commitment to equality when challenged on the issue at its annual meeting in Seattle this week.

After a shareholder suggested that the company’s support for the 2012 fight for marriage equality in Washington state had hurt its bottom line, Schultz fired back that the decision was about respecting diversity, not money, and that if the shareholder thought he could do better elsewhere, he was certainly free to do so.

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country,” Schultz told the shareholder. “You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company.”

Schultz’s response earned loud applause from the audience.

Listen to an audio clip of the exchange.

Starbucks has a long history of supporting the LGBT community. When Starbucks announced its support for marriage equality in Washington, Kalen Holmes, executive vice president of Starbucks Partner Relations, emphasized Starbucks’ longstanding commitment to providing “an inclusive, supportive and safe work environment for all of our partners.”

In February, Starbucks was one of nearly 300 companies that filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring that DOMA forces companies to discriminate against their own employees, running contrary to the firms’ own corporate policies and values.

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