Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is on a mission to urge more Americans to vote.
He thinks higher voter turnout will help a political process he described as a “circus” and “bombastic” in a video Starbucks released Friday of a recent company meeting.
“There should be a level of discourse that is respectful and we should be able to look at those people and say those are the kind of people we’d like our children to model behavior after,” Schultz said.
The tape shows Schultz addressing a room full of employees — one of seven open QA sessions he has held so far this year.
During the talks, Schultz cites statistics to bolster the message: Less than 60% of eligible voters cast ballots in 2012, and voter turnout for the 2014 election was the worst in 72 years.
Schultz previewed his views on the current state of politics in a recent interview with CNNMoney.
“I think you can count on Starbucks and me trying to elevate the national conversation on one specific subject — and that’s citizenship,” Schultz told CNNMoney in an exclusive interview. Schultz added that he doesn’t “feel very good” about the political rhetoric during this campaign season.
This isn’t the first time Schultz has sought to address social issues.
Last year, he faced a backlash for trying to spark a national conversation about racism by having baristas write “Race Together” on drink cups. In 2012, he asked Starbucks baristas in Washington, D.C.-area stores to write “work together” on cups during a Congressional “fiscal cliff” drama.
Schultz has spoken out about gun control, gay rights and making education affordable.
Without elaborating on his plans, Schultz said he’ll continue to leverage Starbucks massive footprint — it has 23,000 stores and about 238,000 employees globally — to bring about change. And he has a message for critics, too.
“People say: Your role is to create shareholder value and profit; not to use Starbucks as a political tool,” Schultz said in the video released Friday. “It’s my grave concern about where the country is … and in fact, businesses and business people can do more.”
“The entire country for 200 plus years has been built on participation,” Schultz tells employees. “That’s what this is about.”
Stayed tuned for a similar message at a Starbucks near you soon.