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Three Cheers for Responsible Capitalism! The Way America Works

Posted by honestpoet on November 7, 2008

With all the allegations of socialism leveled at the Democrats lately (which certainly rang with a very ironic twang for me, coming from Republicans, who just helped oversee a partial nationalization of our banking industry), I was heartened to read this article by the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz (at HuffPo) about what business needs to be doing right now to help the economy get back on track, and it’s not about being short sighted and only looking at the bottom line:

Now is a time to be bold. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in our people, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. The argument–and opportunity–for companies to do this has never been more compelling. A recent opinion piece by former Vice President Al Gore Jr. and David Blood makes this point eloquently. “Sustainability and long-term value creation are closely linked,” they wrote earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal. “Business and markets cannot operate in isolation from society or the environment.”

I share that belief, and it has guided me and my partners over the past three decades, as we have grown Starbucks into the company it is today. Sure, we are the first to admit that Starbucks is by no means perfect. We have made our share of mistakes. But I can tell you unequivocally that as Starbucks confronts today’s economic challenges, it will do so while remaining true to our principles and fostering a culture that genuinely embraces our collective humanity.

Last week, Starbucks gathered 10,000 of our store managers together for a leadership conference in New Orleans. I am proud to report that among many other benefits of the conference, our leaders performed more than 50,000 hours of community service in that still-struggling city. During the conference we also announced a set of ambitious but realizable goals for the way we source our coffee, how we help to sustain our environment, and what we can do to work with, and continue to contribute to, the communities in which we do our business and the world as a whole.

Good business, like good government, isn’t about socialism. It’s not about taking from the hardworking and giving to the undeserving any more than it should be about duping customers with a shoddy product or externalizing costs with environmental degradation or cheap foreign labor. It’s about recognizing the value in every life, and in doing business in such a way that real value is created, for the benefit of everyone, including the shareholders. That’s good business, and that’s the true American way.


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