A Letter to the Head of Starbucks
Dear Mr. Schultz,
My name is Scot Barker and I will admit that it is only in the last couple of years that I started frequenting Starbucks on any sort of a regular basis. For a long time, my impression of Starbucks coffee was that it is over-roasted and bitter. Then, honestly, I was intrigued by the Starbucks mobile app on the iPhone and started playing around with it. And I found myself going to Starbucks more. I started finding things I liked and I kept going more. Nice job! I see what you did there! Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that I have a 15 year old part hipster daughter who right now can’t live without a Starbucks in her hand! That may have been my fault, though. When you started offering livable wages, health insurance and online education for your employees, I was intrigued. I was telling my daughter that I should start drinking more Starbucks because it would help you support these efforts. She was totally in (remember, part hipster — and almost millenial) and we started going more.
I’m currently the Senior Director at an ecommerce company. I work with people here and overseas, in India, among other places. In so many ways, I have a sense of responsibility for these people. You see, one of the Indian partners I work with is a non-profit organization called Indivillage. They are a rural BPO working to bring tech jobs to the rural countryside. My company, because of my pushing for it, was their first customer. I saw it as an opportunity to do good for someone while fulfilling a mission at my company. We needed to outsource some work, and I wanted to make sure we did it in such a way as to make it more than a just cost saving effort on our part. And it has worked. I received an email from Indivillage at the end of 2016 outlining what our partnership with them over the past nine years has helped them do. They went from employing our first five people, to now having more than 65 people working at IndiVillage, across multiple customers, not just my company. Those employees support more than 130 more dependents. Of those working at IndiVillage, 33% are in their first paying job. Forty percent of the people working at IndiVillage are now pursuing higher education. And, to top it all off, IndiVillage rolls their profits into other endeavors, such providing free education to 300 children from the poorest of the poor areas, providing them with food, clothing and education and building a new well supplying safe, fresh drinking water to more than 2000 people in the village. It is truly a circle of prosperity that I am so proud to be a part of as a result of what I do. And while I got to help make it happen in India, there is no reason the same model couldn’t be made to work here in the U.S.A.
Imagine how I reacted when I read a story in Forbes magazine talking about how you’re so much more than just the head of Starbucks. The more I follow your story and that of your company, the more I see a kindred spirit. It’s not enough for you to just manage a coffee empire. You’re also working to make the world a better place. All of that brings me to why I’m writing you this letter. I want to thank you for being more than just the head of a coffee company. Thank you for pushing the boundaries and committing to the idea that your organization needs to do more than just sell coffee, make money and please the shareholders. The fact that you want Starbucks to be a force for good in the country, that you see private enterprise as able to fill gaps that the public sector simply won’t (or can’t) address right now is as powerful as it is awesome.
I know you have announced that you’re stepping down as CEO in the coming months. I hope your successor continues to carry the torch you have lit and continues the mission you established. Perhaps even becoming a BCorp is possible. For you, I hope you’re not done trying to make the world a better place. I hope you’re not done trying to establish businesses that not only do well for themselves, but also for the community and the world. And if you do crank up another such enterprise, reach out. I’d love to be part of it!