Howard Schultz could probably have ignored the protesters in Ferguson, Mo. Had he calmly sipped a flat white while demonstrators across the United States screamed “I can’t breathe” at police officers following the death of Eric Garner, few would have cared. After all, what do racial tensions in the U.S. have to do with pumpkin scones and macchiatos? Instead, the Starbucks CEO made an unlikely move: Last December he called a meeting of the company’s “partners” (its preferred term for baristas and their colleagues), passed around a microphone and asked them to let loose about the state of American race relations.
The free-for-all session, the first of a series of open forums Starbucks has arranged across the country, was designed to give employees an opportunity to “have a conversation about what was happening in our nation”….