Monday, October 14, 2013
Is it intelligent and safe to inject politics into business? Starbucks is about to find out. It has rolled out a petition calling for Congress to pass a budget and to cut debt. The resolution is not controversial but once a business gains a reputation for taking public positions, it risks alienating a percentage of its customers. Thus far, it hasn't hurt Starbucks whose CEO is increasingly outspoken, but one has to wonder what might occur. Starbucks is a public company. Its shareholders might not have the same views as the CEO who ought to understand he cannot speak with impunity. The bolder Howard Schultz becomes, the greater the possibility he will find himself in an untenable position in his business. This is not to say that business should stay out of politics. Quite the opposite. Business has to defend itself in the legislative arena as much as any citizen, but to take public positions that have little to do with one's business is risky. I'm not sure I would have the courage to do it.