For all the good will former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has built up over the years, he’s wasted little time in throwing it all away in the whirlwind few days since announcing his potential presidential bid. After taking to Twitter to pre-announce his bid as a “centrist independent,” Schultz has been criticized for potentially splitting the democratic vote, effectively handing over re-election to the Republicans. He has since gone on to defend billionaires, refer to himself as “self-made,” and take aim at the progressive polices of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. For a centrist, Schultz sure has spent a lot of time the past four days taking shots at those to his left, forgetting presumably what new hell sits at his right and the consequences of splitting its opposition.
Now, according to the Huffington Post, Starbucks is trying to get out in front of the blowback with their recent internal “Baristas Need-To-Know” updating with talking points on how to handle questions about Schultz’s potential presidential bid.
You really have to feel for Starbucks baristas. They already catch the brunt of the ire the conservatives want to fling toward Schultz. And now they’re going to hear about it from the other side. Their only friends, it seems, are the centrists, should such a group even exist in the current US political dichotomy.
For the coffee chain’s weekly internal update, partners (the Starbucks term for employees) are given instructions on how to handle customers’ questions about Schultz’s new book From the Ground Up as well as bullet points for redirecting any interactions that involve Schultz’s political aims:
Related to the launch of Howard’s new book, partners may be asked questions by customers or hear media speculation about Howard’s potential political intentions. We encourage you all to take a moment to review the talking points below with your partners.
If a customer ask if we are selling Howard’s book at Starbucks:
- No, the books are available at bookstores and online.
If a customer attempts to instigate, or share aggressive political opinions, attempt to diffuse the situation by sharing:
- We respect everyone’s opinion. Our goal is simply to create a warm and welcoming space where we can all gather, as a community, over great coffee.
If asked about Howard’s political intentions:
- Howard’s future plans are up to him.
Give the biggest non-answer you can muster, essentially. Which is probably a smart tack for the company, considering the Starbucks baristas quoted in the HuffPo article have called his potential bid “extremely awful” and saying things we are all already painfully aware of, “Just because you’re a businessman does not mean you’re also a stellar leader.” One barista even went as far as to say that voting for Schultz “would be voting against [their] family’s economic security.”
So please, no matter whether you’ve hated Howard Schultz for years or have only recently come to dislike him, please, please, please, don’t take it out on the baristas. They’re just trying to make coffee and pick up a pay check.