Why Race Together

Starbucks Coffee
Mar 18, 2015 · 3 min read

by Howard Schultz, ceo Starbucks Coffee Company
and Larry Kramer, President and Publisher USA TODAY

Racial diversity is the story of America, our triumphs as well as our faults.
Yet racial inequality is not a topic we readily discuss.
It’s time to start.

Conversation has the power to change hearts and minds.

At Starbucks, we’ve seen this firsthand. Recently, as racially charged events unfolded across our country, we felt a responsibility to act. We called our partners (employees) together and invited them to express what they were thinking or feeling.

In forums across the country, people shared personal experiences and ideas about how to move our country forward. Men and women from backgrounds as diverse as America’s spoke about their childhoods, neighborhoods, fears and hopes.

Each forum was as respectful as it was emotional. Each voice offered insight into the divisive role unconscious bias plays in our society, and the role empathy can play to bridge those divides. In most of the cities we visited, we also met with senior police leaders to hear their concerns and share what we were learning.

After witnessing the power of civil discourse within our company, we asked ourselves, what more can we do?

Our nation is only becoming more diverse. To ignore, dismiss or fail to productively engage our differences is to stifle our collective potential. Diversity of thought and skills lead to more creative ideas and higher performance. Bias, even unintentional slights, sap our potential for shared prosperity while denying our shared humanity.

RACE TOGETHER is an initiative from Starbucks and USA TODAY to stimulate conversation, compassion and action around race in America.

In Starbucks stores across the country on March 20th, you’ll find a free special insert from USA TODAY. It is an invitation not just to reflect but to open a dialogue about race and what it means to you. Coffee shops have always had a role to play as a venue for open conversation about issues that matter. We hope you’ll join us, at your community Starbucks, with your friends and neighbors.

You can also experience the interactive edition of the RACE TOGETHER special section online at racetogether.usatoday.com.

For all our country’s progress, barriers to social justice and economic equality exist in far too many corners. RACE TOGETHER is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society — one conversation at a time.

Howard Schultz
Chairman and chief executive officer
Starbucks Coffee Company

Larry Kramer
President and Publisher
USA Today

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