In move that could be considered a STIHIE if it wasn’t so Onion-worthy and likely to backfire, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (guess his ethnicity!) now wants his baristas to discuss race relations with customers.
Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Times on Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption “Shall We Overcome?” in the middle, and the words “RaceTogether” with the company logo, on the bottom right. The ad, along with a similar one on Monday in USA Today, is part of an initiative launched this week by the coffee store chain to stimulate conversation and debate about the race in America by getting employees to engage with customers about the perennially hot button subject.
Beginning on Monday, Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they’ve handwritten the words “Race Together” and start a discussion about race. This Friday, each copy of USA Today — which has a daily print circulation of almost 2 million and is a partner of Starbucks in this initiative — will have the first of a series of insert with information about race relations, including a variety of perspectives on race. Starbucks coffee shops will also stock the insert.
If you think this is a terrible business move and will only further alienate non-lefty Whites from his coffee brand, Schultz dismisses those concerns as nonsense.
Lots of people joke that people who study gender theory, race theory, and whatnot in college end up working as baristas while saddled with huge student debts. This should be phrased more positively. A degree in racial grievance prepares one to work at Starbucks! Schultz has the most highly trained group of race hecklers he could want, an enormous untapped resource. I am strangely but genuinely pleased that these hard-working baristas will finally get a chance to do a little bit of what they really love. It will be awkward, though, for Starbucks employees who didn’t go to college or who got more practical degrees. They don’t have the same training in demonizing whites, didn’t know it was going to be one of the expectations of the job, and are bound to feel a little inadequate. Fortunately, I don’t think there are many such people with practical degrees or training working at Starbucks.
Why harass a large group of one’s customers?
- I suppose it’s barely possible that it makes business sense. Perhaps it pleases the non-white and white Leftist customers enough for this to offset the lost business from whites who don’t want a lecture with their coffee. Perhaps it makes employment at Starbucks more attractive, giving them an edge in hiring. This sounds like a silly thing to worry about–there are lots of unemployed people who would be happy to work at Starbucks without the social justice enticement. Then again, maybe there’s more competition for particular classes of service employees–attractive women in their early twenties, for instance. Maybe there are lots of fellows who would like an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a cute waitress, and if the topic has to be race in America, that’s a price they’re willing to pay. I doubt it, though.
- Shultz is a true believer, willing to sacrifice profit for ideology or animus.
- When you’re as rich as the CEO of a big company, pure selfishness leads you to care less about bigger profits than about social status, and you’re happy to pay for the second with the first (which comes out of the pockets of the shareholders anyway). This is what I think most likely. As soon as an individual or business reaches a modest level of success, further increases of profit bring less utility to decision-makers than enhanced social status from ostentatious displays of fidelity to progressivism.
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