marcopako (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has asked his U.S. employees to talk with customers about race relations in a campaign the company calls #RaceTogether — and many of them aren’t thrilled about it.

The Guardian reports:

Not all employees are happy to be burdened with the responsibilities of Schultz’s “conscious capitalism”. Critics of Starbucks say the positions it adopts are platitudes that demand little from the company or customers in terms of identifying the specifics of an issue or concrete ways to address it.

After #RaceTogether was unveiled, Corey duBrowa, Starbucks’ director of global communications, received so many negative messages on Twitter that he deleted his account (he restored it a day later). Others found Schultz’s call for “one voice” on the topic of race condescending. Kate Taylor, a writer for the business magazine Entrepreneur, wrote that Schultz could hardly paint himself as a “visionary progressive” for discussing race when it is “something others, especially people of colour, haven’t exactly been silent on in recent months or the last couple centuries”. …

But others warn that Starbucks’s sense of righteousness could backfire. Business advisers warns that getting too involved in issues creates expectations that companies can’t manage. “You’re going to open the door to all kinds of people holding you to all kinds of different standards,” said Nancy Koehn, a Harvard Business School professor. “Small things can trigger great rage.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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