Starbucks CEO to Shareholder: ‘You Can Sell Your Shares’ if You Don’t Like Company’s Support for Marriage Equality

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shot down a shareholder who grilled him about the company's support for marriage equality at the annual shareholders meeting in Seattle yesterday, KPLU reports:

SchultzAt the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholder Tom Strobhar
suggested that the boycott had indeed bled the company of value.

the first fill quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and
our earrings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing,” he

CEO Howard Schultz shot back that the
decision to back gay marriage was not about the bottom line, but about
respecting diversity. He said the company had delivered a healthy return
last year, boycott or no.

“If you feel,
respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you
got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of
Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” he
said, to loud applause from the audience.

Business Journal adds:

Schultz summed up the company’s position by saying, “Not every decision is an economic decision.”

“The lens we use to make decisions is the lens of our people. We want to embrace diversity,” said Schultz to a loud swell of applause from shareholders and Starbucks staffers attending the annual meeting.

Listen to audio of the exchange here.

Last year, Schultz fielded a question from a representative of the National Organization for Marriage, Jonathan Baker, before shooting him down, saying support for marriage equality was "not a difficult decision for us."