'Embrace dignity,' Starbucks CEO tells employees in letter lamenting 'unseemly election'

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz urged his employees to embrace “respect and dignity” during what he called an “epic, unseemly election.”

Titled "The Promise of America," the letter has drawn criticism for being patronizing. Eater.com published the letter in its entirety.

Dear partners,

It's a rainy Sunday morning in Seattle, we've turned the clocks back an hour, and I'm enjoying a French Press of my favorite coffee, Aged Sumatra. I woke up this morning feeling a bit anxious about Tuesday's election. Regardless of the outcome, our nation will feel divided. Many Americans have allowed the vitriolic nature of the presidential campaign to ignite our differences and strip away our civility and dignity. In the process, we've lost faith in what we all know has always been true, the promise of America.

But you are the true promise of America.

My faith in you has me more optimistic than ever. Today, I'm not talking about our business or the Starbucks brand. I'm talking about you as a person. As a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, a sister, a brother, a neighbor, a citizen. I also am talking about we as people. We as Americans. And, I am talking about the people who have come before us, those who sacrificed so much to give us a better life than the lives they had. Each of us has a great responsibility to those who preceded us, as well as to "pay it forward" for the next generation. So what can we do? What will we do?

In the face of this epic, unseemly election and the concern we all share about the direction of our country and the lack of truth and void of leadership, we can still make a difference in the lives of the people we touch and influence every day. Kindness, compassion, empathy, and yes love is what we need. It is what we must display and share. We are all longing for a deeper sense of human connection and humanity because, when we are touched by it, it fills us up.

Start today by recognizing the power we have to walk in someone else's shoes, to demonstrate understanding, and to strip away the differences that divide us. Let's each embrace the universal virtues of respect and dignity, refusing to allow the hatred on cable news, the ugliness of our politics, and the lack of political role models for our kids to define us and to dictate how we treat each other. Rise above this moment to be the person that makes a positive difference in your neighborhood and community. Be the person who makes your family proud. Be the person who embodies the promise of America so others may see and feel the possibilities that come with being an American—today, tomorrow, and long after this Tuesday.

Like the drawing of so many faces with a single, unbroken line on this season's green unity cup, we are all connected.

On this Sunday, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, know that I send you my love and respect.

Proud, as always, to be your partner,


Seattle coffee giant Starbucks has been stirring some controversy over the last week not just because of the letter.

New limited edition cups that were meant to symbolize “bringing people together” left many customers divided. The cup features a mosaic of people drawn in a continuous stroke. Schultz said the company wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values and the need to be good to one another.

Some questioned whether the new green cups were meant to replace traditional holiday-themed cups, while other accused the coffee-giant of making a political statement.

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