It’s Worth a Little Discomfort

by Kim Taylor

Have you been reading the dialog online since Starbucks launched its #RaceTogether campaign?  I have, and it hasn’t been pretty.

#RaceTogether was born out of a forum Starbucks held with some of its employees in December.  The initiative is intended to stimulate conversation and debate about race in America by getting employees to engage with customers on the topic.

From Howard Schultz’s perspective:

“We cannot continue to come to work every day aware of the difficult and painful experiences facing our nation, and not acknowledge them, together, as a company.”

Disclaimer:  I’m a big Howard Schultz fan.  I’ve kept his Proust Questionnaire from the September 2006 issue of Vanity Fair tacked to my wall for years.  But, beyond my admiration for Schultz is an admiration for a company willing to take a step forward without fear of retribution or snark.

Is it just Starbucks with its overpriced fraps or would our beloved Apple bear the same criticism?  Forget about all that could go wrong when people immediately jump to find the negative and think for a moment about what might happen if this did spur some healthy, positive conversation on an issue clearly still at the forefront of society.

Frankly, I hope Starbucks isn’t bullied into backing off this one.  They’re right.  It is worth a little discomfort.

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