Starbucks plan to hire 10,000 refugees may have gotten a lot of press, but it’s not necessarily the kind that will please shareholders.
It came not long after President Donald Trump’s first executive order implementing a temporary travel ban and halting of admission of Syrian refugees. The specifics of the plan to hire 10,000 refugees are that they’re to be hired over the course of five years in the 75 countries where Starbucks operates. Starbucks even said they’d begin by focusing on refugees who served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.
While making that announcement, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also reiterated his support for Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which aimed to protect illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
While 10,000 employees isn’t too large a percentage of Starbucks’ nearly 200,000 employee workforce (especially over a five-year period), and most of those hired likely won’t even be in America, the attempt at virtue signaling to the public was clearly seen for what it was.
According to Fortune Magazine,
Credit Suisse issued a hold rating on Starbucks, noting “significant volatility in recent weeks,” CNBC reports. According to YouGov BrandIndex, consumer perception levels for the company have fallen by two-thirds since late January.
While perception of the world’s largest coffee chain is still positive overall, it is significantly lower than it was prior to CEO Howard Schultz’s pledge to hire refugees in response to President Trump’s executive order barring refugees from certain countries.
In response to Starbucks’ refugee hiring plan, consumers who supported President Trump launched a boycott of the chain. The company responded to the conservative backlash by saying it would speed up its previously stated goal of hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018. Starbucks announced that plan in 2013, and said on Thursday it had already hired over 8,800 so far.
Most are likely seeing the Starbucks proposal more as a repudiation of Trump’s travel ban (which has majority support) than a genuine attempt to help refugees.
Regardless, it continues to remain a mystery why businesses would ever want to take political stances. Even when they take the right stance they’ll still alienate half their customer base.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]