Living in the Northwest it’s easy to get hung up in strange details. Even buying a cup of coffee can be complicated. “Are these fair trade beans?” “Where were they roasted?” “When were they roasted?” “What is the PSI and temp on your espresso machine?”
Coffee is serious business here. And yes, there are Starbucks pretty much everywhere. But for every Starbucks, there are also other smaller-local-cooler-hipper-more exclusive coffee shops. According to one hipster coffee freak near our office in Seattle “(these artisan coffee shops)…are in an entirely different league from the crap they serve at Starbucks.”
Starbucks is a global corporation with thousands of employees; they are “the man” dominating the more noble and vulnerable local coffee artists. Starbucks is a sellout, right?
But here I am asking you to go to Starbucks; buy coffee, buy a scone, buy a CD…whatever…but support these people because they are setting the right tone for the country. Even if you are a coffee snob hipster I think you should find a reason to support Starbucks.
It’s Not About Guns
I am not saying this because of the brew-ha-ha over the fact that Starbucks follows state laws as it relates to concealed carry firearms; that just makes sense to me as a business owner. So if it is legal in your state, and you have the appropriate license to carry a firearm—knock yourself out and enjoy a Grande’ Mocha Frappuccino with the comfort of a Glock 9mm snuggled in your shoulder holster. I think the “boycott Starbucks” idea because they follow state law is ridiculous.
Now some of my friends (and you know who you are) are thinking—“If it’s not about gun ownership, what in the world could Harrington be going on about?” Is there another issue in America?
Yes. The answer is health care.
Howard Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks, told Reuters on Monday that Starbucks will not be cutting workers hours or denying partner benefits. Says Shultz: “Other companies have announced that they won’t provide coverage for spouses; others are lobbying for the cut-off to be at 40 hours. But Starbucks will continue maintaining benefits for partners and won’t use the new law as excuse to cut benefits or lower benefits for its workers.”
I grant you that analysts have already pointed out that this is not a big deal for Starbucks because they already offer great benefits—and so the mandates that come along with the Affordable Care Act are of little consequence. But this is my point! Short of some kind of nationalized health care—you know the socialist demonic kind—we must rely on our employers and insurance companies to get the coverage we all need.
Health care must be paid for somehow…
Here is where the Evolutionary leader piece comes into play.
You may remember from the book that Evolutionary leaders are driven by a sense of purpose and mission—often rooted in compassion and hope for the human condition. I am arguing that Evolutionary leaders are recognizing an opportunity to do the right thing for their employees by ensuring affordable access to health care. Howard Shultz definitely fits the category.
It’s more than business. It is the principle of the thing. Let’s be clear about one icky piece of reality—health care costs will continue to escalate for lots of complicated reasons. They were escalating in 2000, and in 2008, and in 2012. The best hope to turn that trend around is to overhaul the processes for delivering primary and preventive care and to get the vast majority of Americans, young and old, on the health insurance rolls.
Another blogger called out the fact that Starbucks can afford to offer great benefits because they charge $5 for a cup of coffee. Yeah, the coffee can be spendy, but fundamentally Starbucks is on par with other restaurants and fast food joints.
Companies like McDonalds, Papa Johns, The Cheesecake factory, Hardees, and Jimmy Johns, are shouting the loudest and they are all hand wringing over the costs of health care. And I agree; the constant escalation in cost is not sustainable for any of us. But these leaders are simply decrying the effort and throwing their hands up and saying—“Oh well, I guess we’ll have to give our employees and our customers a raw deal. We hope you’re happy now!”
Sadly it is not just food businesses looking to kick employees in the guise of compliance with the Affordable Care Act. I was particularly bummed when UPS—a company I have respected—came out and said they were going to cut spousal care because of the legislation. Boeing is also making noises about health care benefits—even though they say they agree with the purpose of the legislation.
This is not about ObamaCare per se; it is about a leader’s ability to be successful AND do the right thing for his/her employees. Certainly the law will need to change as we reinvent health care. What is interesting about the health care crisis in this country is that we are all effected by it—100% of us. It is a domain that should welcome participation, innovation, and compassion—all of which are elements of good business in the 21st century..
Happily, I know there are leaders working to bring a new standard of health care access and excellence to our population. Sadly, it is going to take a couple of generations before we “get it.” But there will come a day when our grandkid’s grandkids will look back on the beginnings of the 21st century and say, “Wow, it was like the wild West for health care back then, just crazy…Hey, pull the hovercraft over—I want to grab a Starbucks.”