Tags: starbucks | bias | policy

Starbucks' New Policy Is Brewing More Controversy

Starbucks' New Policy Is Brewing More Controversy
A sign is seen on the wall of a Starbucks store that was closed during a day alloted for company wide anti-bias training on May 29, 2018, in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Monday, 04 June 2018 01:25 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Just when you thought Starbucks’ CEO couldn’t get more clueless, he has.

It was bad when Kevin Johnson jumped the gun last month by calling a manager of a Philadelphia store racist in front of the entire planet — for the “crime” of actually following Starbucks’ policy. It got worse when he kowtowed to the “victims” by lavishing them with praise and gifts. And in a nod to political correctness, he just closed 8,000 stores nationwide so that all 175,000 employees could be indoctrinated with “racial bias” training.

But dumbest of all was instituting the new policy of “inclusivity”  (a fantastically meaningless term) whereby anyone can sit in a Starbucks for as long as they like, without buying anything, with free access to its bathroom facilities.

This column analyzed the Philadelphia incident in two articles, so we won’t rehash that situation. Instead, here is a look at the business ramifications that Starbucks may encounter:

1) In a recent interview, Starbucks’ Executive Chairman Howard Schultz called the Philadelphia incident “embarrassing” and “horrifying,” and stated, “'It was a reprehensible situation that we took complete ownership of.”

Completely inaccurate.

The Starbucks leadership did nothing of the kind. Instead of first investigating to ascertain the facts, they leveled horrendous accusations at their own manager for — let’s say it again — following Starbucks’ own corporate policy of providing bathroom access only to paying customers. (The two men in question hadn’t bought anything). Had they handled the situation with just a modicum of common sense, while adhering to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, there would have been no “outcry,” and thus, no firestorm.

Was the manager overzealous? Possibly. Did she exercise poor discretion? Maybe. But was there one iota of evidence that she was guilty of “racial bias” — the whole reason for the training and new policy? None.

So how exactly can one take “ownership” of a “racial” problem when no evidence of bias existed — especially given that many nonpaying whites have also been denied bathroom access? How can the leadership team take ownership for a policy they created, and that their employee followed, when they still have lucrative jobs — while their former manager is out in the cold?

If that’s “ownership,” one shudders to think what happens when they pass the “buck.”

2) Starbucks can do as it pleases. But given its stature as one of the world’s preeminent enterprises, one would have thought its leaders would have been smarter in understanding that rash actions have consequences. Rather than approaching the Philadelphia situation methodically and without bias, it jumped the gun in response to loud, but ultimately small and weak, social media critics. In doing so, Starbucks’ leadership failed to recognize two critical things:

A)The company’s foremost goal is to continually increase profits, and B) the clientele which, far and away, wields the most purchasing power is the center-right American middle class.

Yet in going off the deep end, Starbucks chose to ignore that powerful bloc, and instead cater to left-leaning Millennials and professional protesters, neither of whom can remotely keep Starbucks afloat.

Perhaps the biggest irony is that the Millennials, despite their feigned outrage, would never have followed through on a boycott of their favorite hipster-progressive company, and would have been patronizing the chain again within days, if not hours.

Starbucks’ stock price is stagnant, its growth has slowed, and “coffee house saturation” has been reached, so any alienation of the middle class could leave Starbucks reeling. The lack of business acumen is shocking.

3) Some will say that racial bias training should not be a political issue. Yet Starbucks made it one by who it has, and more important, has not, included in shaping its new policies. Former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder, the NAACP, and numerous other Left-leaning organizations are on record as assisting Starbucks, which begs the question: who from other parts of the spectrum are represented? What other voices were sought to offer varying perspectives?

Since racial bias is not limited to any one ethnicity or political persuasion, surely there should have been some advisors from the Center and Right. Yet they seemed conspicuously absent. Why would their recommendations not be valued? If one didn’t know better, it almost seems as if those on the Right have been deemed too “bigoted” to have been invited. The Left does not “own” the racial bias issue, so denying a seat to those of a more Rightward bent, especially given that the millions they represent and have the deepest pockets, is truly shortsighted. In an environment where many feel that they are victimized by rampant double standards, Starbucks’ approach was badly misguided.

4) The hard Left is never happy, so it will continue hammering away with their radical agenda and attempt to garner headlines at Starbucks’ expense — a lesson the company has yet to learn.

5) Starbucks’ inclusion policy will likely be radically amended because from a business perspective, it will be an unmitigated disaster.

Starbucks has built its brand around enjoying coffee and free wi-fi in a safe, pleasant environment. But how long will that stay intact when junkies realize that an ideal place to shoot up is a free Starbucks’ bathroom? What will be the cost when headlines blare that someone fatally overdosed in the bathroom? How safe will people feel when homeless use Starbucks’ bathrooms as their personal showers?

If perception becomes that Starbucks is now a de facto homeless shelter, regular customers will stop coming, leading to plummeting sales.

What happens when a group spends $50 on lattes, and has nowhere to sit? How will they react when the seats they used to occupy are now taken by freeloaders for hours on end? What will customers think when they finally score an open table — only to find it filthy after a party of homeless used it for a whole day?       

Are there limits to how long one can use a store’s facilities and wi-fi (without forking over a dime) before being “evicted?” The icing on the cake will be people setting up camp at Starbucks — with coffee and food from other establishments — to take advantage of the open-door policy. 

Incomprehensibly, it appears that no one at Starbucks has given any thought to these questions.

Starbucks’ divisive rhetoric aside, it is not “racist” to mandate a purchase as the “price” to use a store’s facilities. In fact, such a policy remains common practice for many businesses, especially in cities.

In its Quixotic quest to appear politically correct, Starbucks is embarking on a very dangerous course. Many have already boycotted the company over what they see as its pandering to the Left. Others will avoid the chain for more practical reasons — their concern about the lack of safety, seating, and serenity.

Starbucks had better wake up and smell the coffee. If it doesn’t, there will be nothing sweeter than watching it choke on its own bitter brew.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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Just when you thought Starbucks’ CEO couldn’t get more clueless, he has.
starbucks, bias, policy
Monday, 04 June 2018 01:25 PM
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