After President Trump announced in January that he would temporarily ban immigrants from seven terrorist hotbeds, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made his own pronouncement: The coffee company would hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.
The gambit for attention did not go over well. The YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score for the company dropped by two-thirds (never a good thing). American veterans said, "Hey, what about us?" And calls for boycotts splashed across social media.
And now, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has announced he'll leave the company on April 2, according to the Seattle Times. The stock price, which had plunged 10 percent since Schultz's pledge on refugees, has bounced back nearly 5 percent in recent days.
There's talk Schultz wants to run for president in 2020, but his departure is not coincidentally close to his disastrous vow. In an open letter back in January, he wrote that Starbucks would make a “concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination. 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.”
Things went south fast.
"CNBC reported that Credit Suisse reiterated its hold rating on the brand’s stock because of Schultz’s letter, saying both sales and the brand itself had suffered," Conservative Tribune writes.
“Our work shows a sudden drop in brand sentiment following announcement of the refugee hiring initiative on Jan. 29, to flattish from a run-rate of ~+80 (on an index of -100 to +100). Net sentiment has since recovered, but has seen significant volatility in recent weeks,” Credit Suisse equity analyst Jason West wrote.
It’s easy to see why. Schultz isn’t the only person who has condescended to those who want stricter vetting by painting them as simply opposing “those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.” After all, our former president went as far as to describe them as “widows and orphans,” mocking those who had concerns about Islamic State group infiltration.
We’ve seen more than enough evidence that there are significant security concerns that need to be addressed. Consider the fact that the FBI confirmed that nearly one out of every three domestic terrorism cases it was investigating involved refugees.
Of course, Schultz was at the helm when Starbucks encouraged baristas to spur conversations on racism with customers, which prompted much derision. So perhaps he's simply run out of ideas.