The Apology Letter Howard Schultz And Starbucks Should Write For The ‘Race Together’ Initiative

“I am a reflection of the community. I am not saying I am going to rule the world or that I am going to change the world. But I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” — Tupac

Starbucks Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting

Starbucks Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting – Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Recently, we co-launched an initiative with USA Today called “Race Together.” To say the least, this initiative created quite a stir in the social media sphere. We would like to issue a formal apology on behalf of our CEO, company, and partners. Many of these words have already been stated in an internal memo, but we would like to better communicate our goals to you as we hope to learn from your perspectives as well.

Dear Public,

Since December, we have been hosting Partner Open Forums to discuss issues of race, prejudice, and lack of economic opportunity. Time and time again at these forums, the singular question was asked, “what more can we do?” We believe the ultimate answer lies in a better understanding of our community.

We believe Starbucks could have the greatest impact on our communities by creating more empathy, compassion and understanding in our society. On March 16, we invited partners to write “Race Together” or “Together” on cups for three reasons:

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The Curious Case Of Ellen Pao And The Lesson We Can Learn From It

“What brush do you bend when dusting your shoulders from being offended?” — Kendrick Lamar

Ellen Pao

AbovetheLaw.com: Ellen Pao

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination “based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.” Many of us recognize this familiar language, but the actual definition of “discrimination” remains nebulous. As New Yorker writer Vauhini Vara notes, the courts’ definitions for “discrimination” have evolved over time, along with social norms.

Employment lawyers like Kathleen Lucas are closely monitoring Ellen Pao’s sex-discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers because they believe the verdict could have big potential implications in the venture capital and tech industries. The outcome of Pao’s case may not have a direct impact on a firm’s culture, but it could give occasion for others who feel discriminated against to address inequities in the workplace.

Currently, Pao is the interim chief executive of Reddit. She filed this suit against her former firm in 2012, but the trial kicked off just last month. Pao is accusing her former firm of “allowing her to be sexually harassed by male managers, of punishing and eventually firing her when she complained, and of excluding her and other women from business meetings, dinners and promotions.” She is seeking $16 million for lost wages and potential future earnings.

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