Social Issues
Corporate CEO Makes A Bold Statement In Support Of Marriage Equality
March 26, 2013
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With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments about marriage equality for the next two days, it seemed like an ideal moment to share this story with you.

At Starbucks' annual general meeting last week, chief executive Howard Schultz was confronted by a shareholder who is an anti-same-sex marriage advocate.

Tom Strobhar spoke out against the company's policies, saying Starbucks' support of same-sex marriage was hurting the bottom line.

Schultz's response was to the point: if you don't like our policy, he said, "you can sell your shares of Starbucks."

Strobhar founded the Corporate Morality Action Centre, an activist group that has lobbied against recent moves to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Strobhar was upset that Starbucks' supported a Washington state referendum backing same-sex marriage.

After Starbucks announced it was supporting the bill, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) encouraged its members to boycott the coffee chain.

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According to Forbes, Strobhar said "in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings, shall we say politely, were a bit disappointing."

Schultz responded like this:

"Not every decision is an economic decision. Despite the fact that you recite statistics that are narrow in time, we did provide a 38 per cent shareholder return over the last year. I don't know how many things you invest in, but I would suspect not many things, companies, products, investments have returned 38 per cent over the last 12 months."

"Having said that, it is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds."

At that point, the audience interrupted Schultz with applause.

"If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 per cent you got last year, it's a free country," Schultz said. "You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thanks you very much."

Check out video of Schultz's response below, from the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Related:

Former U.S. Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Endorses Marriage Equality For Same-Sex Couples

Thousands March Against Marriage Equality Bill In France

Battle Over Marriage Equality In America Goes Before U.S. Supreme Court

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