At an Advertising Week panel on Wednesday, Schultz detailed how he built responsibility and purpose into the coffee company's ethos. "We have felt for many years that the role for a company has changed," he said during his discussion with Mic CEO and co-founder Chris Altchek. "We began to feel we had an opportunity to use our scale for good and started to ask ourselves how we could do that."
In recent years, Starbucks has vowed to hire 10,000 refugees, veterans, and "opportunity youth" (or young people who are unemployed and not in school). Schultz insists that these promises weren't part of the company's marketing; it was about building a conscious company and doing the right thing.
The American coffee chain has implemented several programs throughout its history that are designed to help employees and the communities where stores are located. Some of these initiatives include providing staff with health insurance, tuition coverage, and stock options.
For Schultz, some of these topics hit close to home. He grew up poor in Brooklyn and said he lost sight of the American dream when his father broke his leg and subsequently lost his job as a deliveryman (Schultz said he didn't have health insurance either). "If I built a company, I was going to do it in a way that would make him proud," Schultz said. "Health insurance was the first thing we did, which was in honor of my father."
But in recent years, Schultz has led company decisions based on recent events. For example, Starbucks opened a store in Ferguson, Missouri two years after the community was rocked by the death of Michael Brown, a black and unarmed teenager who was killed by a white police officer in 2014. Schultz said the decision wasn't about charity, it was about good business. He wanted to galvanize the company around the belief that all neighborhoods should have access to quality services.
Schultz, who is now executive chairman of Starbucks, also announced the return of the company's original series Upstanders. The show tells stories of people who creative positive change in their communities through written pieces, podcasts, and videos. The second season will appear on platforms like Amazon Prime and Audible on Oct. 10.