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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.

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

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."

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  1. The vibe I get from MaryM is the same vibe I used to get from those humorless, terminally-politically correct lesbians of the 1970s who could smile and exchange pleasantries about NOTHING--who felt called upon to make sure nobody makes a joke about anything they didn't approve of, who couldn't stop themselves from looking at the dark side of everything and everybody who wasn't as miserable as themselves. Bleeech!! Mary, I bet everybody you know crosses the street when they see you coming.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Mar 21, 2013 6:48:14 PM

  2. Oh, Mary -- decaf please.

    Posted by: Dee Vee | Mar 21, 2013 11:15:24 PM

  3. Mary, Tom strobhar is a professional antigay activist, as well as some kind of financial whiz boy. I'm wondering about you. What is your full name. What do you do? Because the comments you're making lead me to beliee you might be an expressl while presenting yourself as decaf.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Mar 21, 2013 11:27:25 PM

  4. God bless you, Mr. Howard Schultz...God bless your soul. God bless you for doing the right thing, saying the right thing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Oh, I love your coffee, BTW!

    Posted by: millerbeach | Mar 22, 2013 5:34:51 AM

  5. Party on, Garth. You and MaryM (as in Matalin?) make quite a team. Perhaps wedding bells should be in your future.

    Anyway, one can own one share in a company and be able to speak at a stockholder/shareholder annual meeting.

    This is changing, though, as some corporate Boards are amending by-laws to require a minimum amount of stock ownership before being allowed to speak.

    There are several "professional shareholders" on the left and the right that make a hobby out of attending annual meetings and being a nuisance.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Mar 22, 2013 8:46:49 AM

  6. Mary hasn't really backed up her first claim, has she? Just added to it.

    Posted by: doug | Mar 22, 2013 11:41:36 AM

  7. Why do Companies divide their business by entering the political arena? You know if the table was turned and a business that supports traditional marriage said the same thing, their wold be nation wide riots and protest.

    I'm curious to watch what happens as more people who are currently uniformed about Starbucks stance on Marriage as well as support for Planned Parnenthood become more informed. Many people in these Cities where these Starbucks are, are lucky to even know who the VP of the US is or what the sequester is, so they likely have no idea about Starbucks political stance. They should celebrate their pride and post sign above their business signs to inform the public of their "Gay Pride".

    I'm further interested what happens to their business in Countries that unlike America hold moral standards in their Country as well as Religious views. Just because America has become demoralized, doesn't mean that other Countries have demoralized their Country regardless to pressure from the UN and Countries like the US that have over a 70% divorce rate. U.S. is not exactly the model Country to take advice from about marriage with a over 70% failure rate. It is like taking sound business advice from someone that has gone bankrupt

    Posted by: Rob | Mar 25, 2013 2:08:43 AM

  8. @Mary - You really have no idea what you are talking about. I worked for Starbucks as a Store Manager for 11 years and I have to say that the benefits are the same whether you are part-time or salary. If you work more than 18-20 hours on average a week, you get them. Health insurance (supporting married or domestic partners living together), bean stock, 401K, vacation time, tuition assistance, free Lb. of coffee/week, and the list goes on. You obviously have no proof or know anything about this because if you did, you wouldn't be saying the things you are. Get your facts straight!!!

    Posted by: Jess | Jun 27, 2013 4:25:51 PM

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