Starbucks has launched a new initiative, Race Together, to get customers and employees to talk about race. This initiative was launched as a result of rising racial tensions following the deaths of unarmed black males by white police officers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is white, says Race Together is “not a solution,” “but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society – one conversation at a time.”
Despite raw emotion around racial unrest from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City to Oakland, “we at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”
Partners were not silent. For more than an hour, at an all-hands meeting at the Starbucks Support Center, partners representing various ages, races and ethnicities passed a microphone and shared personal stories.
“The current state of racism in our country is almost like humidity at times. You can’t see it, but you feel it,” said one partner.
Fortune magazine reports that 40 percent of Starbucks employees identify as a racial minority but all the people in the “Race Together” press photos are white. Interesting…