Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz has pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban. The 63-year-old CEO and chairman of the Seattle-based company wrote an open letter to his staff stating that the president’s order had caused “confusion, surprise and opposition”. “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question,” Schultz said in a touching letter.
With this, Schultz has become the latest in a growing list of US-based corporate chiefs who have questioned the ban. Earlier, the ink had barely dried on President Trump’s immigration order on Friday when the backlash from all corners of the industry began. Big corporate giants like Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla have criticized the presidential order. Airbnb has even offered free accommodation to people affected by travel restrictions who find themselves unable to enter the U.S.
It is worth mentioning that President Trump had signed an executive order on Friday barring refugees from Syria for an indefinite period besides imposing temporary travel bans to immigrants from six other Muslim-majority nations including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order also suspended the US refugee program for 120 days.
In his letter to the employees, Schultz said that the hiring would be applicable to Starbucks’ stores worldwide and that the recruitment would begin in the United States, with the focus being on hiring refugees “who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.”
In a letter written with “deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise”, the CEO added that he wanted his staff to know that the firm would “neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each passing day”. He termed the recruitment pledge as “a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination”.
Schultz, who had supported Hillary Clinton during the build-up to the presidential elections, also targeted other parts of Trump’s agenda focused on immigration, repealing ex-President Barack Obama’s health care law and building a wall with Mexico.
He vowed to support coffee growers in Mexico, provide health insurance to eligible workers if the health care law is repealed and support an Obama-era immigration program that allowed young immigrants brought to the States as children to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation, besides a work permit.
Schultz promised that Starbucks would aim to communicate with employees on a more frequent basis. “I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.”
Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee companies and coffeehouse chains worldwide. It has almost 238,000 employees working at more than 25,000 stores in 75 countries across the globe.