Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’




In Capitalism and Freedom (1962) the late American economist Milton Friedman wrote:

There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

During the 50+ years following the book’s publication the meaning of Friedman’s quote has been debated in C-Suites around the world, particularly the “rules of the game.” The widely held interpretation is one of a status quo; as long as it’s legal the corporation has fulfilled its role in society. Hence, with Friedman’s legacy in mind, the majority of leaders and their boards tend to focus on regulatory compliance as the “golden rule” and push the “soft stuff” like culture, trust, employee engagement and community off to the side, or perhaps to a functional silo that then creates a “program” or a philanthropic PR campaign.

There is a small and growing cadre of CEOs who are simply no longer accepting Friedman’s theory as gospel.

One of them is Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. This past January, Schultz was the first CEO to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America. And just recently in his annual address to shareholders, Howard asked his audience to consider two questions:

  1. What is the role & responsibility of a for profit company?
  2. What is the role and responsibility of all of us as citizens?

We asked members of our Trust Alliance and our Top Thought Leaders to weigh in on Howard’s video and questions, and are sharing a few of the responses.

Nadine Hack: Yes, we live and work at a time when our collective values often are alarmingly devoid of compassion, generosity, concern for others or common civility. But, we’ve always had backward-looking fear-mongers concurrent with forward-looking hope-givers. So, like Schultz, I choose to be optimistic, caring, and a committed participant in expanding awareness of and desire to effect positive change. Every day we do have a choice to advance the relay race towards greater compassion.

Bob Vanourek: For profit companies have done more than any other organization to raise people out of poverty, enhance living standards, lengthen life spans, and lower costs. But many market-based companies have gone seriously off-track. Regulations to set boundaries are necessary, but real reform must come from within.

Organizations at the board and CEO level must set the overarching goal to be excellent, ethical, and enduring. That is their overriding role and responsibility.

The days of the heroic leader riding in to save us all are gone. Yes, we need better CEO’s and government leaders, but the real work belongs to us in our families, neighborhoods, places of worship and work, and where we volunteer our time. There we need to engage in civil dialogue once more. As English writer Mary Wortley Montagu said, Civility costs nothing but buys everything.

Mark Crowley: The truth is humans have survived as a species not through competition or selfishness, but through intentional cooperation and collaboration.  The lesson from this is that nature intends for us to unite. It’s only by caring about each other that we can truly thrive. 

The greatest good businesses can do for society is to honor the human beings they employ. Giving workers respect, appreciation and fair treatment will only strengthen us.

And while valuing employees is an inherently noble thing to do, nature, once again, rewards it. One only needs to look at Starbucks financial success to confirm this.

Linda Fisher Thornton: Ethical leaders know they are responsible for upholding values that build strong companies, strong communities and strong societies– including care and compassion.

People have tried shortcuts that go around respect, civility and tolerance, but there is no acceptable shortcut on the road to profit (or power) that “goes around ethics.”

As the world changes, leaders who stay competent know that respect, human connection and trust matter. Those positive factors keep employees engaged in doing good work and that engagement translates into excellent service to customers, which translates into responsible profits.

And finally, Donna Boehme provides this summary. Many would dwell on the for-profit’s duty to generate profits for its investors, but there is an important element to that – transparency and good behavior in “how” the company does business. For example, if a company were to discover a giant bribery scheme in its operations, that company should seek to maintain the Trust of its constituencies by self-reporting to authorities and cleaning house immediately, and be transparent to its investors and employees about the discovery and subsequent actions.

Every Board and C-Suite has a duty and responsibility to ensure that their respective business is conducted consistent with relevant legal and ethical standards.

Each individual has many roles (as parent, citizen, voter, shareholder, professional, etc.) and spheres of influence where they can uniquely promote and support ethical and trustworthy behavior. To act consistently with the law and in a manner that will promote trust in our communities. That includes being informed and educated about trustworthy behavior and supporting those individuals, organizations, and institutions that promote ethical leadership and trust.

And, naturally, Howard Schultz has a few thoughts of his own about the role and responsibility of a for profit company.

“The heart of this question is a belief that the private sector must begin to hold itself more accountable in ways that include but go beyond fiscal responsibility. More than ever, the fragility of the times we live in requires us to extend ourselves in expected and unexpected ways. Companies such as Starbucks have the financial, intellectual, and human resources to step in and try to create new solutions for a multitude of communities, and since our earliest of days, we have done just that. We have worked to build a different kind of company –  one committed to delivering shareholder value while embracing values and guiding principles that serve our people, our customers, and the neighborhoods where we do business.”

And, it doesn’t stop there.

Howard has also said that we all have a collective responsibility for civility, personal responsibility and collective accountability for our communities and one another. As Howard Schultz framed on stage at its recent Annual Meeting of Shareholders: “Sadly, our reservoir is running dry, depleted by cynicism, despair, division, exclusion, fear and indifference.” He suggested citizens refill the reservoir of the American Dream, “not with cynicism, but with optimism. Not with despair, but with possibility. Not with division, but with unity. Not with exclusion, but with inclusion. Not with fear, but with compassion. Not with indifference, but with love…It’s not about the choice we make every four years. This is about the choices we make every day.”

Starbuck’s mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. Howard Schultz continues to live that mission through both his words and actions.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its sixth year, the program’s proprietary FACTS® Framework ranks and measures the trustworthiness of over 2000 US public companies on five quantitative indicators of trust. Barbara is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine.

Tuning in to Trust & Ethics is a new monthly column of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s Trust Alliance compiled by Barbara Brooks Kimmel

A shorter version of this article first appeared on the FCPA Blog.

Copyright © 2016, Next Decade, Inc.









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It’s Week #11 of 2016. This latest article is part of a series drawn from our 3rd annual 2016 Trust Poster….now hanging in hundreds of offices around the world. Get yours today!

52 Ideas That You Can Implement to Build Trust

Corey DuBrowa the Senior VP of Global Communications at Starbucks offers this:

The most potent contribution to trust is the commitment to taking meaningful action. 

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

We know him better as one of the Founding Fathers; an author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor, diplomat.  He even bootstrapped a fire department (Philadelphia) and a university (Franklin & Marshall College).

But more than this diverse list of descriptors and attributes, Benjamin Franklin was, first and foremost, a man of action.

And as it happens, a leader whose principles mirror our own at Starbucks. Great companies, enduring brands, build an emotional relationship with their customers based upon trust.  So if the currency of leadership is transparency, than the basis for trust is the reservoir of good faith you build with your people and your customers, based upon your actions, everyday.

It’s easy for company leadership to “talk” trust. The hard part is walking it. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his Senior VP of Communications are pretty good at doing both.  Thank you Corey. We hope our readers heed your advice.

It’s not too late to catch up on our weekly series…..

Week #1 Kouzes & Posner 

Week #2 Bob Vanourek

Week #3 Barbara Kimmel

Week #4 Mark Fernandes

Week #5 Doug Conant

Week #6 Roger Steare

Week #7 Nan Russell

Week #8 Stephen M.R. Covey

Week #9 Bill George

Week #10 Carol Sanford

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its sixth year, the program’s proprietary FACTS® Framework ranks and measures the trustworthiness of over 2000 US public companies on five quantitative indicators of trustworthy business behavior. Barbara is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine.

Copyright 2016, Next Decade, Inc.


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Customer service is perhaps the most essential component in building and maintaining trust, and yet it is often the most abused. While the customer service team is the first interaction with the public, and the first opportunity to lay that essential trust foundation, in many organizations it represents an “easy” cost cutting “line item.”  As the economy improves, you might think companies would shift their pocketbooks back to their customers, but in my experience, it’s not happening. Just think for a moment about why companies choose “off shore” customer service call centers and the issue becomes clear.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many wonderful  businesses who understand that without their customers, their windows are permanently shuttered. This year, I have had first-hand experience with all the companies listed below and will continue to support the bottom line of the first six.

1. Kohler– their products are not inexpensive, but they stand behind them in an exemplary way. Something breaks? Give them a call. You will speak with a knowledgeable customer service rep who will have you happy and off the phone in no time.

2. American Express– I recently called them for the first time and was startled by the professionalism and expertise of their CSRs. The gentleman I spoke with told me he had been with the company for many years, has worked in all aspects of the card division and often hops on the phone to help customers, as he had with me. Wow!

3. Constant Contact– for those of you who maintain large mailing lists or databases, there are no computers answering the phone at Constant Contact. Call them any time and watch how quickly they assist you. You can almost see the smiles on their faces as they answer your questions.

4. Amazon– publishers hate them but when it comes to customer service, they have their system so “right” that one need never speak to customer service! Orders can be placed quickly and efficiently, and packages are delivered. It’s that simple.

5. Wegmans– while most people don’t look forward to their weekly food shopping chore, Wegmans makes it pleasant and satisfying.  From quality to cleanliness, reasonable prices and great staff, it’s hard not to trust them.  Not only will they “bag” your groceries, but they will even take them to your car. Compare that to the service at your supermarket.

6. Starbucks– yes, their products are “pricey” and occasionally a Barista may spell your name incorrectly on your cup, but the Starbucks experience is pleasant for customers of all ages. It isn’t by accident. Howard Schultz cares and he makes sure everyone who works for him does too.

This list would not be complete without flipping the coin to the worst customer service companies of 2014.

Fortunately, this list is a bit shorter than the one above.

1. Chrysler Group– for issuing me an undated safety recall notice involving the ignition switch, power steering, engine and breaking. The notice states the following: “Chrysler intends to repair your vehicle free of charge. However, the part required to provide a permanent remedy for this condition is currently not available.” Huh? It’s now at least 4 months since this notice was received and the dealer advises that Chrysler still has not made parts available. And Chrysler has yet to follow up on its recall notice. Correct me if I’m wrong. Isn’t this the same story as General Motors earlier this year? Did you know Chrysler is owned by Fiat in Italy? What’s going on here?

2. Amerihealth NJ – it would be difficult to find a worse customer service disaster than this one. Even escalating complaints to the President’s office doesn’t work. The person you speak with will tell you that they receive dozens of calls every day, including those from lawyers on behalf of clients with the same exact issues. Nothing this company does is right from holding on the phone for hours (literally) to not sending insurance cards, getting your address wrong, incorrectly processing claims, to billing. Yet they have received designations of excellence and best places to work! Go figure. Thankfully, I will be escaping from this nightmare come January 1.

3. Comcast – This is the company that claims they “care” but a claim and an action are not the same.  And ….

4. CenturyLink – these two companies work pretty closely because in our geographic area, without the service of one the customer is “stuck” with the other. The companies know it and so there is no reason to give the customer any sort of service. It’s monopolistic business practice at its worst. The customer comes dead last in every interaction all the time. Be prepared to spend endless hours on the phone with no resolution. The option, disconnect your phone and TV and save yourself the aggravation. In my case, CenturyLink loses my business only because Comcast has a faster internet speed.

Any time the customer has the option to send a message with their pocketbook, they should do so.

Support companies who support and respect you. Dump the companies that don’t.

I know these stories will resonate with many of our readers. Who should be added to the top list of “good guys?” Send your recommendations to

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

You can order our books here.

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Copyright 2014 Next Decade, Inc.

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Last week an acquaintance reported on the ten biggest reputation disasters of 2014-  City of Ferguson, Flight MH370, Ray Rice, Bill Cosby and so on…. The focus remains on the negative under the premise that “bad news sells.” I’m tired of these stories. They serve no purpose other than to attract “eyeballs” and perpetuate negativity. How about you?

Not all is gloom and doom. When I launched Trust Across America-Trust Around the World more than five years ago, one of our objectives was to redirect attention to the “good guys.” There are plenty of them, but their stories continue to get hidden amongst the bad news. The list below is not about philanthropy or CSR. It’s about trustworthy leadership values and their impact on all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

These are….


The Ten Best CEO “Trust” Stories of 2014 (not necessarily in rank order)

#1 David Reiling, CEO at Sunrise Banks Answers the Toughest Questions about What Makes a Trustworthy Leader in our new magazine TRUST!

#2 Starbucks Howard Schultz “Comes Out” on Building Trust, and Why it May Decide the Future of their Organization… and a bit more detail here

#3 Nancy Lyons of Clockwork in Minneapolis Redefines Employee Engagement

#4 Elon Musk at Tesla Shares His Patent Secrets with His Competitors. Read why.

#5 Capital One’s Richard Fairbank Has a People Centered Vision. His company also made our Top 10 Most Trustworthy Company List for 2013.

#6 Trade Joe’s Employees Dance in the Aisles for Autism

#7 Herve Humler Announces Ritz Carlton as First Founding Partner at Impact 2030

#8 Marathon Call at Zappos Shows the Value Tony Hsieh Places on Customer Service

#9 Rick Holley CEO of Plum Creek Timber Gives Back Bonus, Says He Doesn’t Deserve it

#10 When Good Guys Finish First, The Second Coming of Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas


Let’s celebrate these trustworthy leaders and the companies they run. Let’s work together to continue the “trust trend” in 2015.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.



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Sometimes my friend “Karma” plays the most interesting tricks on me, as she has done this week with this classic corporate “trust tug of war.”

On Monday I wrote a blog post called CEOs “Suck” at Trust.

Soon after, my friend Corey Dubrowa at Starbucks reminded me that not all CEOs are created equal, and shared this recent video of Howard Schultz describing the future of corporations and their trust imperative.

I remain a big supporter of Howard because of his focus on trust. His name has been included among our Top Thought Leaders for several years, and I wrote about him back in 2011 in a CNBC blog called “We Need More People Like Howard Schultz

And then this morning, Karma came knockin’ with an article in my inbox called Corporate Governance Issues for 2015 written by another acquaintance Holly Gregory. It begins with this sentence: “Governance of public corporations continues to move in a more shareholder-centric direction.” Holly describes the push, pull and pressures companies face in meeting the short-term demands of shareholders and long-term value creation.  At the end of Holly’s article she touches on the role of the corporation in rebuilding trust, from a somewhat philosophical perspective.

So which one will it be in 2015? Do we slog through another year of misdirected Boards and CEOs focusing on the short-term needs of shareholders, or will more follow the example being set by Howard Schultz?

I’m hanging my hat with Howard. As has been proven, again and again, the best companies are those with a long-term stakeholder value perspective. They are not sacrificing profitability for trust, in fact, quite the opposite. The business case for trust has been made. Enlightened companies have Boards and CEOs who get that. The rest allow themselves to remain caught in that ever present net of short-termism.

I want to do my part to help reverse this seemingly never-ending cycle of mistrust in business. I will repeat the offer I made on Monday. For the remainder of the month of December, any public company CEO or Board Member who emails me at with their name, title and US company address will be sent our complete three-book award-winning TRUST Inc. series at no cost, with no strings.

PS- I am a proud long-term Starbucks shareholder! Keep up the good work Howard.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.


Copyright 2014 Next Decade, Inc.



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What do pickles, kindness and employee engagement have in common? Read on.


This morning my younger son was packing up to head to Vermont for a few days with a friend and his family. He had just returned from the bagel shop with a Baker’s Dozen and a container of cream cheese to share during the trip. On his way out the door I remembered that last evening I had brewed up our first batch of summer refrigerator pickles from our bounty of organic garden cucumbers. (For those of you who think pickles must be made in a crock and “cooked” for months, there’s a shortcut that actually tastes better and only takes 3 or 4 days. Think “crunchy” and Google “garlic dill refrigerator pickles.)”

I suggested to my son that he take a jar to his host family. His response surprised me. He said he believed one kind gesture (the bag of bagels) was sufficient. I reminded him that you can never do too many nice things for others.

Same applies to leaders in any organization. Who in the C-Suite is tasked with doing the “right” thing and keeping everyone happy, the equivalent of a Chief Kindness Officer? It all starts with the CEO.  How often do you hear about companies doing nice things just because they want to, as opposed to well crafted PR campaigns or corporate window dressing? Some do. Howard Schultz at Starbucks just announced a program to pay college tuition.

According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Do you think building kindness into the corporate culture might raise that engagement? Acts of kindness build trust. They make for good business.

I have compiled a short list of the various ways leaders can build trust through deliberate acts of kindness.

  • Set long-term goals and establish a benchmark
  • Put trust high on the agenda every day
  • Create an intentional culture
  • Hire the right people who are aligned with that culture (don’t forget to let HR know)
  • Communicate openly
  • Support advancement
  • Catch someone doing something right every day, announce it and reward it
  • Tell the truth
  • Park your ego at the door and do more listening than talking
  • Come down out of your ivory tower and on to the shop floor
  • Keep your word
  • Offer to buy lunch, bring a jar of pickles, and sit down at the table.

Start today. Set some long-term employee engagement goals and put trust high on the daily agenda. Let me know the outcome.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

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Drop her a note at

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.


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