I’m not a frequent customer of Starbucks but on occasion I do stop in one of the stores and have a brew of the day. It does seem, however, that Starbucks business model has always had the interest of those who grow their coffee and those who work in their stores at heart.
Last week I saw the founder and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, being interviewed on Morning Joe. The topic of conversation was a program the company started last year called Create Jobs for USA. Starbucks kicked off the program with a $5 million donation and is asking other corporations to join them in helping to fund small start-up businesses around the nation. Google Offers and Banana Republic are the first corporations to join them and together they hope to raise $80 million for small business loans.
One way of raising funds has been the sale of wrist bands similar to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong effort. Customers can purchase a red, white and blue, wrist band for $5 at any Starbucks store. The bands are manufactured in America using American raw materials (thus helping to create jobs) and all the proceeds go to helping fund new jobs creating businesses in this country.
Another action taken by Starbucks was the donation of two of their stores to community groups, one in California and the other in New York. The recipient groups now own and operate the stores and keep the profits.
Schultz stated that American corporations have to step forward and do their part in restoring the American economy and the American worker. He also believes that the corporate tax codes need to be lowered to a level that will attract offshore monies back to this nation. He suggested a 15% tax rate to any company who would return their part of the estimated $2 trillion now sheltered from American taxes overseas. The condition would be a guarantee that the monies would be used in a meaningful way to create sustainable jobs for Americans.
I don’t have a degree in business or finance but to my mind this is music to my ears. Too many times I have heard CEOs aver their primary responsibility is to their share holders. It was so refreshing to hear one speak of other meaningful obligations. I just may have to drink a little more of their brew from time to time.