In a reaction to the new Trump refugee ban, departing Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) CEO and founder Howard Schultz said the company will hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years. In a message to workers titled “Living Our Values in Uncertain Times,” he also laid out several related initiatives.
The Starbucks network of stores is vast, a total of 25,734 in 75 countries, which makes the plan appear realistic. The coffee retailer employs over 191,000 people. Founded in 1971, Starbucks is still growing fast in terms of numbers of locations added per year.
Schultz is not a stranger to activism. He has criticized gridlock and partisanship in Washington and attacked polarized race relations.
In his message, Schultz wrote:
There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.
There is no coincidence that the United States is the first country for the program. Schultz said as much, reacting to the ban. He also pointed out that Starbucks employs 7,000 Mexicans.
Schultz also said Starbucks will support employee health benefits, despite attacks on Obamacare.
Schultz has never reacted to the question about whether his stances cost Starbucks customers. The rapidity of his response to a U.S. ban on refugees shows that he does not care about the customer issue, at least in this case.