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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Starbucks Takes a Hit for Supporting Gay Marriage


In January 2012, Starbucks joined Microsoft and Nike in publicly supporting the same-sex marriage bill in the U.S. state of Washington. Two months later, the National Organization for Marriage began a “Dump Starbucks” boycott as a result of Starbucks' support of gay marriage. David Barton, whose sermon on May 19, 2013 on “pious caffeine consumption” was posted on the internet, said, “The question is, ‘Can a Christian give money to a group he knows will use it to attack what God supports?’ . . . You can’t drink Starbucks and be Biblically correct on this thing. It’s just a real simple principle.”[1] Barton had earlier likened being gay to smoking and gay marriage to dogs marrying horses. In spite of these rather extreme claims, the boycott gained some traction. At the next Starbucks’ stockholder meeting in March 2013, Tom Stauber, a stockholder, suggested that the company’s sales and earnings were a “bit disappointing” in the quarter after the boycott had begun precisely because of the issue. Whereas the stock and dividends had risen 38% from October 2011 to September 2012, the rise was only 7.6% from March 2012 to March 2013.[2]  If indeed the causal attribution is correct, then it can be asked whether the management (and/or board) of a company taking a political stand on a controversial societal issue that is not expected to save the company money and in fact could result in lost revenue breaches the fiduciary duty to the stockholders unless a majority of shares are voted in support of the position.



Starbucks typically relies on young adults to both work in and manage the stores. Even an excellent vetting process in hiring does not mean that effort is not needed to fortify the mechanism of accountabilitySource: wikimedia.  

The full essay is at "Starbucks: A Shaky Management Wades into Social Issues."



[1] Meredith Bennett-Smith, “Christians Can’t Drink Starbucks Because Company Supports Gay Marriage, Evangelical Says,” The Huffington Post, June 3, 2013.
[2]Aaron Smith, “Starbucks CEO Holds His Ground on Gay Marriage,” CNN Money, March 28, 2013.