Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz has come out and put everything on the line. At a recent shareholder meeting when asked by shareholder Tom Strobhar if perhaps Starbucks should either reverse or soften their stance on Gay marriage, because profits were down since the announcement of support for Gay marriage, Mr. Shultz responded quite harshly. “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country,” he said. “You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
Tom Stobhar was referring to the profits going down because of a nationwide boycott by the group NOM, the National Organization for Marriage. He pointed out rightly that their profits took a turn for the worse when they came out in support of Gay marriage. However Mr. Shultz says that some things are not a financial decision. “Not every decision is an economic decision,”
Well forgive me, but to the shareholders EVERY decision is a financial decision. Certainly it is Mr. Shultz right to do as he chooses, but it is also the Shareholders right to question financial decision by the CEO that affect their profit margin. While his position on Gay marriage, is a personal choice, he certainly could’ve handled it better. Telling the people who have invested in your company for years, to basically get lost, is always a mistake. He could have defended the decision, or at least been a bit more polite. It is poor business practice to bully shareholders into submission. I’m guessing that with that attitude perhaps some shareholders WILL sell out and invest in a company that values their input.
Personally, I am not a Starbucks kind of person. I personally prefer my local coffee shop Elizabeth’s gourmet coffee & tea shoppe.
I tend to prefer local quality over superstar chains. However, had I any notion of stopping in for one of Starbucks tasty Frappuccinos, I think I will pass. I don’t boycott places because of their opinions being different from mine, however, I do not choose to give my money to chains that clearly don’t value shareholder input. Communications is key, and any CEO who honestly doesn’t give a crap about shareholder profit, doesn’t give a crap about the consumer either.