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A Starbucks Executive Got a Disturbing Email From A Salesman. His Reply Was Stunning (and Public)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Salespeople can often think they’re clever.

Or, rather, that they should act that way.

Too many believe they know exactly how to be your instant friend.

Too many don’t realize they come across as a hybrid of doofus and nincompoop.

In these days of instant digital judgment, it’s easy to ignore them, of course.

So I was moved by a tale told by David Brunelle, Director of Engineering for Starbucks.

He received an email from a salesman, read it and then — I’m guessing here — his eyebrows and lips twisted in disgust.

The email began with painful salesperson-speak:

Hi, David, It’s great to see you’ve been promoted 4 times at Starbucks and have risen from the ranks of Web Developer in 2013 to now Director of Product Engineering. And to do it after your served time in the Navy. Congrats!

Personally, I’d have already girded my critical faculties at the apparent recitation of Brunelle’s resume or LinkedIn page.

Would I be moved to hear this slimy stranger’s congratulations? Only to deleting the email.

Yet Brunelle is made from politer stuff. (It must be your time served in the Navy, David. Congrats!)

The next line of the email, however, tested his patience:

I can’t help myself, what’s your go-to order at Starbucks? I like my women like I like my Starbucks coffee order: Tall, Blonde, Americano…

Seriously.

Yes, Brunelle could have pressed delete. Instead, he chose not only to reply, but to make that reply public.

It was startlingly polite, in the circumstances:

You lost me with this line. Tech can be a challenging place for women. Your statement perpetuates the mindset that women are here for our entertainment. I don’t believe that to be true. This type of statement also makes a few dangerous assumptions: that I’m heterosexual and will relate to the objectification of women, that I’m cisgender and haven’t personally been objectified/alienated, and that I’d feel comfortable objectifying women behind closed doors.

He was just warming up. Next came:

One of my company’s values, that I am deeply committed to upholding is ‘creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome’. I’m also dedicated to increasing diversity in technology. In order to increase the number of women and minorities in this field, we need to foster an environment where everyone feels safe and supported.

Perhaps, though, it was the last line that expressed — with bare restraint — Brunelle’s true disgust:

It doesn’t seem like our values align.

Of course, it would be instructive to discover which company the salesman works for.

But if you think this sort of thing is an isolated incident, you might want to think again.

These sorts of attitudes aren’t eradicated overnight.

Some might even observe that in a world where powerful elements are trying to turn society back to the days of Mad Men, such sexist guff is on the increase.

It’s heartening, then, that someone in a powerful position at a powerful company chose to display the true nature of supposed sales patter.

I wonder if he was tempted to send the correspondence to the salesman’s boss

By: Chris MatyszczykOwner, Howard Raucous LLC@ChrisMatyszczyk

 

Source: A Starbucks Executive Got a Disturbing Email From A Salesman. His Reply Was Stunning (and Public)

 

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Starbucks’ Holiday Cup Offer Gets Off To A Crashing Start – Micheline Maynard

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If you went to Starbucks on Friday and failed to get one of its reusable red cups, you were not alone. And if you tried to get on to its app to order a drink and found yourself locked out, you were not alone, either. A number of customers across the United States complained on social media that they were unable to obtain one of the red cups that Starbucks promised to give them if they ordered one of its holiday beverages. I was among the people who were unsuccessful in nabbing one of the cups, and I still couldn’t log into the Starbucks app late Friday afternoon……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2018/11/02/starbucks-holiday-offer-of-a-reusable-cup-gets-off-to-a-crashing-start/#78b5eedab573

 

 

 

 

 

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Activist Investor Bill Ackman Takes $900 Million Stake In Starbucks – Maggie McGrath

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Bill Ackman, the activist investor who took on Chipotle in 2016, revealed Tuesday afternoon that he has turned his attention to the biggest coffee chain in the world. Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital, has taken a roughly $900 million stake in Starbucks. Ackman unveiled the 15 million-share position—a roughly 1.1% stake—at Grant’s Interest Rate Observer conference in New York on Tuesday. His core investment thesis is that despite recent struggles in same-store sales and a less-than-stellar stock market performance…..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2018/10/09/activist-investor-bill-ackman-takes-900-million-stake-in-starbucks/#40ef194e41fc

 

 

 

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Starbucks commits to 10,000 ‘Greener Stores’ by 2025 – Olivia Minnock

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Starbucks has announced an initiative to design, build and operate 10,000 ‘Greener Stores’ globally by 2025, with wider aims to help the wider retail industry operate more sustainably. The ‘Starbucks Greener Stores’ framework is being set up to outline comprehensive performance criteria so that the design, building and operation of Starbucks’ locations will set new standards for ‘green retail’ – this will then be open sourced so that the wider retail community can benefit from the framework and work toward the standards……

Read more: https://www.energydigital.com/sustainability/starbucks-commits-10000-greener-stores-2025

 

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See also:

McDonald’s joins Starbucks to develop sustainable products  

Walmart’s 2018 CSR report: 20mn tonne reduction in emissions, sustainable souring and more

Read the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine

 

 

Was Starbucks’ Racial Bias Training Effective? Here’s What These Employees Thought

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One Northern California-based Starbucks barista said she contemplated leaving her job after the controversial arrest last month of two black men sitting at a Philadelphia location of the coffee chain for several minutes without having purchased anything.

That employee, an African-American woman who asked TIME to remain anonymous due to concerns of losing her job, was angry. And when Starbucks later announced more than 8,000 stores across the country would participate in racial bias education training, she didn’t understand why.

“I was angry we had to educate people on how to not be racist,” she recalled in an interview with TIME Tuesday night shortly after attending the hours-long training that shuttered nearly all of Starbucks’ U.S. locations.

But, after completing Starbucks’ racial bias training program Tuesday afternoon with her coworkers, the California-based barista felt her perspective had changed. “I’m a black woman; I’ve already known all of this,” she said, referring to one section of the program that detailed living day-to-day in public spaces as a person of color. “But the fact that it was a video all employees had to watch, it really warmed me.”

More than 175,000 Starbucks employees participated in the mandatory racial bias education program Tuesday afternoon at thousands of U.S.-based locations as part of an initiative spurred by the high-profile incident in Philadelphia last month. Gathered around a few iPads at locations around the nation, Starbucks employees watched nearly two dozen videos featuring the rapper Common, documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Starbucks executives and other prominent figures, while participating in wide-ranging discussions about race and identity with their colleagues.

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The curriculum, released in full by Starbucks online Tuesday night, placed an emphasis on encouraging some employees to become “color brave” instead of “color blind” and meditated on the Starbucks’ responsibility as the “third place” for some members of the community, akin to a home and workplace.

TIME spoke with five Starbucks employees on what it was like to attend Tuesday’s training sessions. These employees shared differing perspectives on the impact of the curriculum and detailed how effective they each thought it truly was.

Jason, the only African-American employee at his Hollywood-based Starbucks location who asked TIME to identify him by his first name out of concerns over job security, said the program reiterated common conversations surrounding race like inclusion, acceptance and understanding.

But he said the training failed to address how to end instances like what happened in Philadelphia from occurring in the future. While a number of the videos featured the perspectives of people of color — and particularly African-Americans — Jason wrote in a message to TIME that “there were times where I felt they missed the mark.”

“It seems like a lot of talking from the videos,” he added, “and not enough discussion from us.”Employees said they were also given workbooks that included prompts for them to discuss their first experiences with racial identity and discuss in pairs questions like, “What makes me, me? And you, you?” The company also gave employees personal journals to write in and keep for the months ahead. The curriculum as a whole, Jason said, could have used some improvement.

“Helpful? [I don’t know],” Jason wrote. “It kinda reaffirms things that I know already.”

Jason was not alone. Mohamed Abdi, an employee at a Starbucks location in Alexandria, Virginia, told TIME he wished the program featured more discussions between coworkers as well. “Honestly I think they should have more hands-on courses speaking to different people and customers to figure out where they’re coming from,” he said. “It’s easy sitting through something and saying you learned something than actually learning something from the course,” he added.

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His reception of the course, however, was generally positive. He particularly enjoyed the documentary produced by Stanley Nelson that displayed “the different things people of color go through just by leaving the house day by day.” That video featured an array of people of color who discussed how they access and experience public spaces than their white peers. (“When I go into stores, sometimes I get followed,” one woman said in the video. “Especially being a teen of color, they assume that you’re doing something bad.”)

The California-based, female employee told TIME that same video strongly resonated with her and — at one point — almost drove her to tears. “I often find myself even at other Starbucks locations where I don’t work at, and when I say I’m a partner, they look at me a certain kind of way,” she said in a phone interview after her store’s training session Tuesday night. “Just the fact that they really touched on that, it definitely made a lot of people in my job who work with me understand better.”

Ryan Curran, a white employee at a Sewell, New Jersey, location, said he and his coworkers learned a lot from the Starbucks training and wouldn’t change anything about the curriculum. “It would be helpful to continue the program when needed, for example, if a problem occurs in a certain store,” he said.

However, an Arkansas-based Starbucks employee who asked to remain anonymous out of concern over her employment, said she couldn’t imagine the curriculum would have much of an impact. “While this may be the most cost efficient way to handle the situation, I don’t feel like it will change much of anything,” the employee told TIME over text message before the training started.

She added that the store she works at initially didn’t plan on closing for Tuesday’s training, but eventually did once Starbucks’ higher ups stepped in. “Just driving an hour down the road takes you to towns where racism is alive and well,” she added.

According to estimates detailed by USA Today, Starbucks likely lost around $12 million by closing its U.S.-based stores on Tuesday afternoon. Since announcing it would close down the afternoon of May 29 for the training, Starbucks has emphasized the session was just the beginning of a long-term commitment to diversity and combating racial bias.

Researchers and social scientists recently told TIME that a one-time education program isn’t enough to combat racism and eradicate the use of racial biases. Hours before the programs began on Tuesday, Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said the company plans to globalize these efforts and make similar initiatives part of the on-boarding process for new employees.

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Indeed, in the weeks after Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested at the Philadelphia location, Starbucks implemented new policies that allow people to sit in stores or use their bathrooms without purchasing anything. Hakeem Jefferson, a political science doctorate student at the University of Michigan who will join Stanford University’s faculty in the summer, told TIME ahead of Starbucks’ training day that structural and systematic changes like these policies could help prevent “negative outcomes” of unconscious biases manifest themselves

Starbucks’ curriculum, the company has said, is a launching pad for further initiatives as well as a tool for other companies to refer to and a program that may be used in the on-boarding of new employees in the future. But while movements within a company like Starbucks come as the result of a high-profile, racially charged incident, “I think we should worry that that doesn’t lead to the kind of change that we might want,” Jefferson, the social scientist, said.

“This has to be a core component of every company’s mission, particularly in an increasingly diverse world.”

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Starbucks Is Now Open for Loitering and It’s a Terrible Business Decision – Gene Marks

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Starbucks, in an effort to walk back from the recent bad press it received, has just made a terrible business decision. Did you catch it? According other reports, the company, in a letter to its employees this past weekend, said that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”

Starbucks employees were told to follow company procedures for people that are acting in a “disruptive manner,” particularly when there’s a potential safety concern. The company is also asking its customers to “behave in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment by using spaces as intended, being considerate of others and communicating with respect.” That’s fine for “customers.” But if a guy’s not buying any coffee how can you call him a customer?

It’s a terrible mistake and it should be a fascinating business lesson, not only for the giant coffee chain but for the thousands of smaller, independent coffee shops, merchants and restaurant owners that operate around the country. Why?

First of all, consider my local Starbucks (which by coincidence is the one located at 18th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, where the now infamous racial incident that occurred last month). I go there all the time. Unfortunately, so do lots and lots of homeless people who sleep the nights in nearby Rittenhouse Square looking to use their bathroom or to get a cup of water.

The employees at that location are great — always providing but then politely moving them along. (Let’s please not get into a homeless debate here: It’s a terrible and sad problem. But anyone who lives in a city like me knows the best thing to do is to contribute to organizations who can provide food, clothing and medical care for this population.)

Once word of this new policy spreads — and it will spread quickly — my expectation is that this location will be residence for many indigent people…all day long. If you were homeless, wouldn’t you do the same? As long as you’re “considerate of others” and “communicating with respect” (whatever that means) you can sit there from opening to closing and enjoy warmth, security, a bathroom and as much water as you can drink.

It’ll be interesting to see the impact this has on all the other customers who use that location as a place to meet friends, study or relax with a latte and a book. My prediction: Bye-bye, Starbucks.Secondly, what will Starbucks do if the policy fails? Has this really been thought through? Was it even tested during this past month? Please, don’t ever do this in your business.

Yes, we all sympathize with the homeless, but do you sympathize so much that you would sit next to someone who’s been living rough (and smells like it) after spending six bucks on a Frappuccino? And what about their employees? Does the company realize just how much more difficult their jobs will become? Will Starbucks lose valuable people due to the added stress from adding “policeman” and “psychiatrist” to their already long list of job duties? I think so.

There is potentially good news from this decision, particularly if you’re one of the thousands of coffee shop, store or restaurant owners around the country. It’s quite possible that the influx of homeless or other people who aren’t paying but use Starbucks like a bus station waiting room will drive existing Starbucks customers to you.

But then again, it’s possible that the Seattle chain’s supposed “benevolence” may force you into doing the same — or bear the wrath of activist groups, social media trolls and bad headlines. Will this force the many independent business of chains like Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts to do the same? Ugh.

So let’s see how this plays out. I’m ready to buy my coffee at any of the dozens of local merchants nearby if my local Starbucks becomes uncomfortable or undesirable. You know what? I should be doing that already.

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