Howard Schultz Steps Down as Chairman of Starbucks

Schultz transitioned from CEO to executive chairman in April 2017, changing his focus to social-impact initiatives and developing the company’s high-end coffee shops.

Starbucks said Myron E. “Mike” Ullman would be the new chairman of the board upon Schultz’s retirement.

“We know Mike Ullman from his time at JCPenney as a fierce and disciplined diversity advocate,” DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti said Monday.

In April, a manager at a Starbucks in Philadelphia called the police on two Black men asking to use the bathroom before ordering coffee. They were waiting for a business associate. The manager spearheaded the racist incident and a video of the arrest went viral.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson gave a tone-deaf apology.

“Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” he said.

The company closed its stores nationwide last Tuesday for optional racial-sensitivity training. Visconti wrote in a recent column that optional training was futile.

“By not addressing ethics and values, starting at the top of the company, Starbucks made a strategic error in making the training optional,” he wrote.

“This is not a small mistake; it is a symptom of a failure of corporate culture that first emerged with the #RaceMatters catastrophe in 2015. I believe it is reflected in the fact that their stock price has been skating sideways ever since the #RaceMatters failure.”

Starbucks said that as of June 26, Schultz would have the title of chairman emeritus.

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