Action Reveals Values: Starbuck’s CEO Schultz Stands Up for the Company’s Value of “Embracing Diversity” (Video)

At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Wash. last Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz told off an investor who tried to argue that the company’s support for same-gender marriage is bad for business.

The shareholder Tom Strobhar, founder of an anti-gay marriage group, claimed that as a result of the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of the coffee company, “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Watch as Schultz replies bluntly that Starbucks’s endorsement of marriage equality is not about making money, but about the principle of embracing diversity. Then, he goes on to disabuse the shareholder of the claim that financial returns were disappointing.

Schultz finishes, “if you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.


Peter’s Perspective: Letter to Mrs. Obama on the President’s Decision Not to Protect LGBT Federal Contractors

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Please have a stern talk with your husband about the importance of living by one’s values. He seems to be losing sight. Two days ago, he signaled that he will not issue an Executive Order that would protect men and women who work for Federal contractors from either being discriminated against in hiring or being fired because they are gay or lesbian.

For all of your husband’s talk about fairness, this decision flies in the face of fairness and continues to support discriminatory practices that are perpetrated on good men and women, good American citizens. For all your husband’s talk about the greatness of our nation based on enabling every American citizen who works hard and plays by the rules to get a fair deal, the President’s refusal to issue the Executive Order to make that “talk” true for millions clearly signals that “talk” is all it is. His pretext that he prefers the legislative process is hollow since we all know that there is no chance that this Congress will send the ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) to his desk.

Does he have the humility to walk this one back and the courage to walk his talk? I can only believe that if your daughters were older, and were one to come out as a lesbian, the President would issue an Executive Order barring discrimination in a heartbeat. Perhaps he might want to put himself in the shoes of the millions of parents whose kids are gay, and who want only that their kids get a fair deal.


In An Act of Citizen Leadership…

…Zach Whals, a 19-year-old University of Iowa student, addressed the Iowa Legislature about the strength of his family headed by his two moms. Mr. Whals spoke with conviction before the House of Representatives in an effort to dissuade and even admonish its members intent on amending that state’s constitutional and repealing the existing right of Iowa same-sex couples to marry.

In my past blog posts, I have regularly described a citizen leader as the man, the woman, the young adult and the teen who applies their character, their convictions and their courage to speak up, take action and lead efforts that contribute to the community and serve the common good.

In this video of his address, Zach Whals shows us what citizen leadership looks like, feels like and sounds like.

In an era when we are all being assaulted by others’ agendas, tempted with profit, prestige and personal gain, or taunted by peer pressure and political expediency, it is our job to be solidly grounded in who we are and how we want to be in the world, and have the courage to stick by that. 

Citizen Leadership = Courage to Act on Convictions

My heart goes out to the Citizen Leaders on the University of California Davis campus who demonstrated, by their peaceful sit-in, the courage of their convictions, only to be assaulted by the campus police. 

These sons and daughters, these American citizens, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement on the campus, became the latest victims of alleged police brutality to be captured on video. The videos show the students seated on the ground as a UC Davis police officer brandishes a red canister of pepper spray, showing it off for the crowd, and then dousing the seated students in a heavy, thick mist. (Note: This was an officer of the UC Davis Police Force, not the officers from the city of Davis, California).

“The UC Davis students were peacefully protesting on the quad,” wrote the student who took the videos in an email to The Huffington Post (from which this blog posting is excerpted). The filmmaker, a senior, asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution by campus authorities. “The cop gave them 3 minutes to disperse before he said they would come and disturb the protest. The main objective for them was removing the tents… The students did have a right to be on campus, they were assembling peacefully and the campus was open at the time.”

UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza defended her officers’ actions to KCRA. She argued that it just wasn’t safe for students to camp on the quad. “It’s not safe for multiple reasons,” Spicuzza said.

Claudia Morain, a UC Davis spokesperson said, “We are just not going to allow a tent city. Just period. In these budget times, we shouldn’t use resources that should be going to our core academic mission going to a tent city. The police tried to use the least force that they could.”

The UC Davis chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi, released a statement Friday. It states, “We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal.”

Nathan Brown, an assistant English professor at the university, released an open letter to the chancellor, calling for her resignation. He wrote, “You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt.”

The student filmmaker, who says he is not part of Occupy Davis, told HuffPost, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think such a thing would ever happen on campus over a tent being on campus. It’s embarrassing on the part of the police to take such actions.”

Excerpted from The Huffington Post 11-19-2011


Chapter 2: Conviction

It is a fundamental tenet of The Citizen Leader that citizenship challenges us to contribute to the world around us — that we act as citizens when we participate in efforts to better our community and improve life for everyone in it.

Let me propose that the caliber of our actions, or indeed even our willingness to take action at all, is directly proportional to our beliefs and feelings about our community. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher and advocate of self-reliance and personal initiative, reminds us that “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

So we begin to explore your role as an active citizen in your community by asking you to consider your beliefs and feelings about the world in which you have the remarkable opportunity to make an immediate difference — about the communities where you live, work, play and pray.