Starbucks says it will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, a response to President Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees and temporary travel bans that apply to six other Muslim-majority nations.
Howard Schultz, the coffee retailer’s chairman and CEO, said in a letter to employees Sunday that the hiring would apply to stores worldwide and the effort would start in the United States where the focus would be on hiring immigrants “who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.”
“I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise,” Howard Schultz said in a letter to employees posted on the company’s website.
“We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.”
Schultz, a Democratic Party supporter, said that Starbucks had been in contact with employees affected by the new Republican president’s executive order signed Friday.
The decree suspends the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
The CEO said the refugee hires would be fleeing war, persecution and discrimination in the 75 countries where the company operates.
Schultz also defended Mexico, which Trump has said will have to pay for a wall along its long and porous border with the United States to deter immigrants, perhaps by the US imposing a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports.
“Building bridges, not walls, with Mexico,” he wrote, voicing support for the country that has provided Starbucks with coffee for three decades and where nearly 600 Starbucks coffee shops employ 7,000 people.
“We stand ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans.
“But we will continue to invest in this critically important market all the same.”
Schultz is close to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to Trump in the November election, and supported her during her White House campaign.
But he has dismissed persistent rumors that he would seek the highest office in the land.
The move reflects the increasing complexity that businesses face when dealing with the Trump administration. Trump has met with CEOs at Ford, General Motors and Boeing and asked them to create jobs in the United States, while touting each announcement about new factory jobs as a success even if those additions had been planned before his presidential victory.
But not all corporate leaders have embraced Trump. Schultz added that Starbucks would aim to communicate with workers more frequently, saying Sunday, “I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.”