Leading in Uncertain Times

Following the Brexit vote, Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz sent the following letter to all partners (employees) on June 24, 2016.

Dear partners,

Last night’s vote to leave the European Union was a historic moment for the UK and the world. The long-term ramifications of the vote's "leave" outcome will not be known for months or possibly years, but today the collective emotional toll is very real: Some people, customers, partners, friends and family are embracing the results, feeling optimistic, while others are disappointed, even angry, and feeling anxious about their future.

Amid the inevitable uncertainty, our own goals remain clear: Today, Starbucks leadership, together with our UK and EMEA leadership team, want to assure all Starbucks partners that we are completely committed to the UK market. Our European headquarters is in the UK, and it is our largest market across the whole of the region. In fact, the UK remains one of our very top global markets. To reiterate what has already been communicated to our UK partners earlier today, we’re in the UK for the long game. The UK is a vital part of our business and we are 100 percent focused on our growth strategy and continuing the momentum we’ve built in our UK market. As we often say, we have never been more optimistic about our future in the UK and in Europe.

The UK, of course, is not the only source of uncertainty. The incivility of the U.S. election process, slowing economic growth, worldwide political instability, in addition to the ongoing shadow of global terror, also color the mood of consumers everywhere and impact events here at home. I believe we must do all we can to rise above the noise and go back to the core of what we at Starbucks believe is most important for our long-term success.

Our beliefs and commitment to respect, inclusion and diversity must remain steadfast. Never have Our Mission and Values been more important. We have always celebrated our differences, and we will continue to respect and honor each other as partners and customers and as people. Regardless of where you are from or what you believe, honoring our shared humanity is a hallmark of our culture.

In these times, we also have a responsibility not to be bystanders, but rather, to be upstanders and to act in ways that can ease the collective anxiety inside and outside the company. Let’s do everything we can to empathize with our customers’ and one another’s concerns and aspirations. Starbucks role as a source of familiar comfort and supportive community is most important during times of inevitable change in the world beyond our stores.

And, as we look ahead, my confidence in our own aspiration and collective success have never been greater. We recently completed our five-year strategic plan with the Starbucks Board of Directors. Within that plan, I’m pleased to report that there are key initiatives and investments in our people and our business, as we continue to put our partners at the center of all that we do.

From time to time, challenges will emerge – just like the moment in which we now find ourselves – and how we choose to lead during these uncertain times is critical for our future. Let’s continue to stay true to our principles and take nothing for granted. Given our learning, experience and recent performance, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of our company and the opportunities ahead. We’ve proven more than once that Starbucks can determine its own destiny, regardless of external circumstances. And this moment in time is no different.

Thank you for understanding this environment and for all you do every day to serve our customers and connect with one another.

I remain proud to be your partner.