Conservative Starbucks Investors Are About to Raise Hell About Its ‘Anti-Trump’ Agenda
Companies such as Lockheed Martin and General Motors have experienced it — displeasing President Donald Trump could result in a critical tweet from the commander-in-chief and cut into their stock price. Now, one group of conservative Starbucks investors is going after the coffee giant with a message: Please stop challenging the President, lest it seriously damage the company’s reputation and sales.
A conservative think tank that is also a Starbucks shareholder, the National Center for Public Policy Research, said it will attend Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday to raise concerns about what it calls the company’s “liberal political stances and attacks on President Donald Trump.”
“Coffee has no political allegiance, but Starbucks under [CEO Howard] Schultz’s leadership has been unwavering in its support of liberal causes to the detriment of its brand and shareholder value,” said the center’s General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, who will attend the Wednesday meeting.
The group points to actions that have fanned consumer ire in the past about race, religion, immigration, and LGBT rights. That includes Starbucks’ vocal support of same-sex marriage, and its plain red Christmas cups that prompted some to call it an insult to Christians. The center also named Starbucks’ ill-fated “Race Together” initiative, which aimed to encourage dialogue about racial issues.
While those programs didn’t challenge Trump’s agenda directly, Starbucks’ pledge to hire 10,000 refugees in stores worldwide did. That promise came as a response to Trump’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries. That executive order was eventually blocked by federal judges — though it didn’t stop #BoycottStarbucks from trending on Twitter.
For Wednesday’s meeting, the National Center for Public Policy Research didn’t actually submit a shareholder proposal as it has done in years past. Last year, its proposal was aimed at preventing any discrimination against the company’s more conservative employees.
“As Schultz is obviously quite liberal, perhaps even anti-conservative, one wonders if conservative Starbucks employees feel safe being themselves,” Danhof told Fortune in an email Tuesday night. The group plans to post the questions it will ask Starbucks online at 1 p.m. E.T.
Starbucks did not immediately comment Wednesday. Shares of the company are up about 1.6% since Trump’s election, underperforming the S&P 500’s 8% rise during the same period.