Starbucks Pledges to Hire 10,000 Refugees

CEO Howard Schultz said the company is doubling down on its commitment 'to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.'

Published Jan 30, 2017

 (Real Life Design / Shutterstock, Inc.)
Image Via Real Life Design / Shutterstock, Inc.

Two days after President Donald Trump signed a 27 January 2017 executive order placing temporary bans on the immigration of foreign refugees and entry to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim majority nations, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz penned a message to the company's employees pledging to help and support all those affected by the ban and announcing an initiative to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years.

Schultz said the program will begin in the United States and focus on hiring refugees who have served with or otherwise supported U.S. troops overseas:

Hiring Refugees: We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world. This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.  There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business.  And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.    

Schultz also promised to continue providing support for participants in the "Dreamers" program (DACA) devoted to helping children of undocumented immigrants, ensuring health care is available to all employees, and doing business with Mexico despite immigration disputes between that country and the U.S.

The message left no doubt that these assurances were prompted by the statements and actions of President Trump, saying, "we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question." Schultz vowed that Starbucks "will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new Administration’s actions grows with each passing day."

Starbucks is known for taking strong stands on social issues. In 2013, the company announced an identical program aimed at hiring 10,000 U.S. veterans and active duty spouses by 2018. Schultz has also issued past statements supporting marriage equality and calling for open discussion on racial issues. Calls for a boycott of Starbucks have become a familiar rallying cry on the Internet.

The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended sharply the day after Schultz's announcement of the refugee hiring program, thanks to an effort by pro-Trump web sites to foment a social media backlash:

However, by mid-day it appeared that the hashtag's popularity derived at least as much from the ridicule being directed at it as from any actual support it may have had:

Some hyperpartisan web sites posted articles alleging that the boycott caused Starbucks' stock price to "plummet":

Although the price of Starbucks stock fell slightly that day, however, the change mirrored a dip in prices across the stock market as a whole resulting from President Trump's executive order on immigration, Fortune reported:

President Donald Trump's decision late on Friday to sign an executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States for 90 days is causing a minor selloff as investors take gains after a post-election rally in stocks and the U.S. dollar.

On 30 January 2017, the day the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag went viral, Starbucks stock opened at $56.00 and closed at $55.90.


Caldwell, Alicia A. and Colvin, Jill.   "A Look at Trump's Executive Order on Refugees, Immigration."    U.S. News & World Report.   30 January 2017.

Gara, Antoine.   "The Dow Falls Below 20,000 As Trump Travel Ban Stirs U.S. Stock Selloff."    Forbes.   30 January 2017.

Schultz, Howard.   "Message from Howard Schultz: Living Our  Values."   29 January 2017.

Shaffer, Leslie.   "Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: We Will Hire 10,000 Refugees."    CNBC.   30 January 2017.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.