At a recent Chicago town hall meeting, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz listened as employees talked about the effect of race on their lives.
Conversation has the power to change hearts and minds.
At Starbucks, we've seen this firsthand. Recently, as racially charged events unfolded across our country, we felt a responsibility to act. To start, we called our partners [employees] together and invited them to express what they were thinking or feeling.
In forums from Oakland to New York to Chicago, as well as St. Louis, people shared personal experiences and ideas about how to move our country forward. Men and women from backgrounds as diverse at America's own populous spoke about their childhood and their neighborhoods, their fears and their hopes. Each story, each voice, offered insight into the divisive role unconscious bias plays in our society and the role empathy can play to bridge those divides. In most of the cities we visited, we also met with senior police leaders to hear their concerns and share what we are learning.
At USA TODAY, while covering those dramatic news in Ferguson, MO., and New York City, among others, we committed to telling the story of the changing face of America. We used our graphical and human storytelling strengths to help our readers better understand the underlying issues that have brought us to this place. We examined our nation, community by community, to help every American learn about each other and rise above bias.
What more can we do together?
RACE TOGETHER is an initiative from Starbucks and USA TODAY to stimulate conversation, compassion, and action around race in America. Over the next year we plan to do just that, using all of our strengths in publishing and in stores across America.
Our companies share a philosophy: Elevating diversity is the right thing to do, but it is also a necessity. Our nation is only becoming more diverse. To ignore, dismiss or fail to productively engage our differences is to stifle our collective potential. Diversity of thought and skills lead to more creative ideas and higher performance. Bias, even unintentional slights, sap our potential for shared prosperity while denying our shared humanity.
For all our country's progress, barriers to social justice and economic equality exist in far too many corners. The following pages reveal this reality. Today, we invite you to read this special section, then share your thoughts with family, friends, strangers and with the country. And please see the back page for ways to send us your feedback.
RACE TOGETHER is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society --one conversation at a time.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Starbucks Coffee Company
President and Publisher