TIME Magazine profiles Howard Schultz in a February 2015 cover story that acknowledges ways the chairman, president and ceo is transforming Starbucks. “Changing the country is going to be harder,” the article’s author Rana Foroohar explains.
The article details the reputation Starbucks has as being a progressive company, having been one of the first retailers in the country to offer affordable, comprehensive health care to full-time and eligible part-time employees and their families, as well as a stock-grant program (Bean Stock) for all.
And there have also been big pushes in areas like workforce training (the company and the Schultz Family Foundation together have trained nearly 700 disadvantaged young people for jobs in retail or customer service), hiring and training of returning veterans (Starbucks has pledged to employ 10,000), student debt and access to education (the company has promised to help pay for employees to get their bachelor’s degree, an investment that will likely cost Starbucks tens of millions of dollars).
Schultz says he is deeply invested in these ideas not only because making the company a preferred employer helps keep turnover costs lower and service quality higher than the industry average but also because he believes corporations have a duty to help people realize the American Dream. “I think the private sector simply has to take a larger role than they have in the past. Our responsibility goes beyond the P&L and our stock price. We have to take care of people in the communities that we serve. If half the country or at least a third of the country doesn’t have the same opportunities as the rest going forward, then the country won’t survive. That’s not socialism,” says Schultz. To him, it’s practical reality.