Starbucks: Don’t Close the Stores, Close Corporate Headquarters
Starbucks CEO has an epic fail in grappling with his racism problem. He is unprepared, and has no clue about how to be prepared. Don't expect this to end well.
In the aftermath of the racist incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks store, the company is going to close 8,000 Starbucks stores on May 29th for hastily prepared diversity training.
It's a mistake.
If there was a problem with the temperature of the milk used to put in coffee, it would take them longer to study the problem than six weeks, and they wouldn't hire celebrities (Eric Holder?) in an attempt to give them credibility. The speed at which they are doing this says to me that this is a PR reaction. But it's not a PR problem. As evidenced by the poor human capital results on their own corporate leadership page (57 people pictured, 19 women, three Blacks, no apparent Latinxs), the corporate culture needs to be repaired from the head down — as it does for all strategic business problems.
Why would senior leadership think it was okay to rush into diversity training with just six weeks' preparation after a major traumatic event? White privilege.
I would assume the CEO of Starbucks is a nice man. Unfortunately, however, Kevin Johnson has no apparent connections with diversity. He spent 16 years at Microsoft, a company with a poor record for developing women, Blacks and Latinos. He was also CEO of Juniper Networks for five years — a company with no women, Blacks or Latinos in the 10 executives pictured on their leadership page. Johnson apparently has no national philanthropic connections to broaden his experience — no national nonprofit board seats, no named scholarships or endowments that I could find. This doesn't make him a bad guy, but with his background, can he really lead an 8,000-store diversity effort with 175,000 employees with six weeks' notice?
His background is just fine if Starbucks' goal is to serve coffee to just white men. However, Starbucks' stock has been skidding sideways for three years; I doubt that's what the board of directors wants him to do. I don't think the board cares particularly about diversity either (after the #RaceTogether incident, you would think they would've gotten serious), but they do care about coffee sales.
So why has the board of directors approved this move to close 8,000 stores? White privilege.
Johnson was interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN two days ago — Don Lemon tried to get Johnson to speak with clarity on the reason the Philadelphia incident happened. Johnson said, "There's something in our society we need to take seriously." But when Lemon pressed him to say what that "something serious" is, Johnson changed the subject to talk about closing all the stores.
IT'S RACISM KEVIN.
The first step to fixing Starbucks' culture is to admit it. Plainly. Clearly. Since the CEO has no apparent understanding of the target of the overwhelming majority of racism in this country, to fix the problem at his company, he needs to get some background. It starts with the CEO (not with the stores) and it can't be done by proxy. So the next time a Black man asks you what the problem is, you'll be able to answer him with clarity and honesty. If you have no clarity and honesty, you cannot expect to lead an effort to bring clarity and honesty to the customer-facing people of your business. You need to give up the concept that your white privilege entitles you to be an expert on the subject. You aren't an expert, this wasn't an isolated incident and you're doing your customers and shareholders a disservice.
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Decades of incompetent Democratic leadership — and disregard for diversity — has taken us down this path.
The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy puts our country at a crossroads where there's only one expected outcome: a bizarrely out of touch and unrepresentative Supreme Court, for generations to come.
Clearly communicated policies and values build corporate diversity success — treating people right is not an option for a well-run company.
By making yesterday's diversity training optional, Starbucks revealed top management indecision about its own principles and how to treat customers.
Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?
A history lesson for the end of Black History Month.
Last week we had a popular story about a stupid diversity trick done at a Hyatt* event that involved Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
A Hyatt diversity "expert" poured chocolate syrup into a glass of milk and as a demonstration that diversity is at the bottom, stirred the milk and chocolate together and said it's much more delicious mixed together. The governor "played along" by drinking the chocolate milk. He (and Hyatt) were playing at respecting Black History Month.
It is a stupid diversity trick because the chocolate syrup is heavier than milk, which is why it's at the bottom of the glass. Black people are at the bottom of most organizations due to racism. Women are not fairly represented because of sexism. It has nothing to do with gravity. Racism and sexism are purposeful human failures.
More insulting than the childish milk demonstration, the guest of honor was inappropriate for Black History Month — Gov. Rauner has been very critical of NFL players taking a knee. He said the players are "disrespecting the foundations of our country."
He's either a racist or profoundly ignorant (or both).
The foundations of our country are white men killing soldiers for the rights of white men, including the right to enslave Black people. In 1775, in Lexington, Mass., white men picked up rifles and shot to death soldiers of their country (we were a British colony) in protest.
The soldiers were marching to seize armories that had elected rebel colonels. At the time, a "well-regulated militia" included all men under 55 — weapons of war, gunpowder and bullets were stored in local armories, not at home. The reason for the armories was attacks by Indians who wanted their land back.
The Battle of Lexington was the start of the American Revolution. It was so important at the time that the Second Amendment to our Constitution is, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (Well-regulated, as in troubled children should not be able to buy assault rifles and nobody should have high capacity magazines.)
Black NFL players took a knee to protest injustice in law enforcement and our criminal justice system, which is (and always has been) predatory on Black Americans by any measurement.
The movement was started by Colin Kaepernick after he viewed this video of Patrick Harmon being shot three times in the back after being harassed for not having a tail light on his bicycle. Please take a moment and watch the last 31 seconds of Patrick's life. Think about the last words on Earth that he heard: "I'm going to fucking shoot you." The video inspired Kaepernick to take a knee. If you read up on him, he is a very thoughtful man; his philanthropy since the obvious collusion of NFL owners ended his career is inspiring.
So, who is more "respectful of American heritage" — the Black players risking their careers to bring awareness of the racial injustice in our legal system, or Gov. Rauner drinking a glass of stupid chocolate milk? And how frightfully ignorant and/or racist are most white Americans, including Gov. Rauner, for thinking that this nonviolent protest is somehow disrespectful?
What could possibly be more in keeping with the best ideals embodied in our Constitution than bringing attention to something so un-American, so disgraceful as our racist criminal justice system.
Having a man like Rauner at a Black History Month event is just clueless. Performing chocolate milk stunts in 2018 is foolishness. People in authority going along with stunts is insulting. I'll bet Patrick Harmon would agree.
Finally, the senior executives at Hyatt have proven that chocolate milk diversity stunts don't work; here's their executive team: 73 percent white men. No women, Blacks or Latinos in P&L positions, women segregated to the traditional roles of corporations that have failed at diversity, the lawyer, marketing and HR positions (the one Black person out of 11 people pictured). I can imagine the CEO paternalistically saying, "Here are our gals." How 1973 of them. Have some chocolate milk little lady.
So, another Black History Month ends, and we've made insufficient progress.
*Hyatt does not participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition.
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NRA propaganda whipping up fear of Black and Latino people for gun industry profits is behind crazy permissive gun laws.
Students from the Florida high school where 17 people were shot to death are all over the news today, but history tells us that the public reaction to the most recent massacre will go away in a few weeks. This is why the NRA keeps quiet.
The Parkview massacre is related to the massacre that happens every day in predominantly Black and Latino inner cities in one key way: gun manufacturers and their lobby, the NRA, have made sure that this country is awash with millions of weapons, many illegal and many more that should be illegal.
Gang members in inner cities don't use pistols or assault rifles stolen from grandpa's attic. They have the latest weapons and ammunition. How? Straw sales. Weapons are distributed to gun stores where they are purchased legally by people who then sell the weapons illegally to the people who sell them to the gangs.
The simplest way to achieve the "well-regulated" militia specified in the Second Amendment is to hold firearms and ammunition manufacturers responsible for their chain of sale. It would be a very easy thing to trace serial numbers to gun shops where the last legal sale occurred. If the manufacturers were liable, they would fix this overnight by not selling weapons to gun stores that are known outlets for straw sales. Ammunition could be barcoded and tracked similarly.
The Republican Congress, however, has moved in the opposite direction, passing laws that protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits.
American massacres with legally purchased guns have one common theme – large capacity magazines. I am a veteran, I earned an expert pistol medal and I am a master rated rifleman. From that perspective I can tell you no American needs a magazine with more than a five-round capacity. Today, I can go to the store and buy an AR-15 with a 100-round drum magazine and a bump stock (making the AR an automatic weapon, which was used in the Las Vegas massacre). All I need is my Florida driver's license. Lunacy.
It would be easy to enforce a law against large capacity magazines, even though there are millions of them in circulation right now. In New Jersey, if you cause an accident where people are hurt and you have no car insurance, you go to jail immediately. Same thing should happen for possession of large capacity magazines. Go to jail for 30 days. Immediately.
Many people have no idea how we got here or why we're seemingly stuck.
Money and racism is the answer. If you compare weapons manufacturing with the number of legal weapons owners, there's a gap. The gap is those weapons that end up being sold to gang members and other criminals. It's hundreds of millions of dollars a year. There's more money to be made – our country has come a long way since police carried six-round revolvers – police are militarized, every Podunk police department has a SWAT team. More hundreds of millions of dollars are being made selling military capable weapons to fight the 50-year-old racist (and failed) war on drugs. Billions more in annual sales.
Further, the NRA specializes in creating propaganda to whip up fear – fear of Black and Latino marauders. This is what's behind their support of Trump. Trump's hate speech against every minority group feeds right into the fears of scared racist white people who are the president's core 35 percent support. A perfect circular partnership.
Meanwhile, over 80 percent of white people are killed by other white people.
It is racism that feeds both desire for guns and refusal to enact logical gun control. And racism is responsible for the massacre of inner city citizens and students in leafy suburbs.