From gun control to legalization of gay marriage, coffee giant Starbucks has forayed into pretty much every controversial and political debate in the past, so it was about time they took a stance on yet another pressing issue of the present times: racism.
The U.S.-based global coffee chain recently teamed up with USA Today to launch its “Race Together” campaign with an advert saying, “Shall we overcome?”
Starbucks baristas also have an option to engage consumers in a conversation focused on improving race relations. A lot of employees have also begun writing “Race Together” on Starbucks cups.
“To be honest there were people that said, this is not a subject you should touch. This is not for you, this is not for a company, this is for someone else,” said CEO Howard Schultz – who oversees a coffee empire of 12,000 U.S. stores – in a video message to employees. “I reject that. I reject that completely because we can’t leave this to someone else.”
As it appears, more than 2,000 Starbucks partners have discussed racial issues at open forums in Oakland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York and Chicago over past three months, according to a statement by the company.
“Baristas in cities where the forums were held said they wanted to do something tangible to encourage greater understanding, empathy and compassion toward one another. Given their willingness to discuss race relations, many partners wanted to begin conversations with their customers too,” the statement reads.
While talking about racism may not prove as effective as the company is hoping it to be, they should be appreciated for atleast addressing the issue. Maybe this initiative will incline others to take a similar stance and really start working towards a change.
A packet of reading material written by Starbucks and USA TODAY will be also available starting Friday, March 20, on newspaper stands and the coffee stores.