With Upward Spiral, Starbucks’ Schultz becomes job-creation advocate

We’ve seen a few brands playing up their role in creating jobs, from Volkswagen and Woolworths in the heat of the recession to McDonald’s earlier this year. Now Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is going a step further by becoming an advocate for corporate hiring. Following the U.S. debt crisis, Schultz circulated a company-wide memo emphasizing the corporation’s responsibility to “ease the collective anxiety inside and outside the company” given the “uncertain times.” In a subsequent “Letter to America,” he outlined ideas to “get things moving,” aimed both at America’s politicians and its businesses. A new politically focused organization, Upward Spiral, is promoting these ideas, which include opening up jobs (employers can make a “pledge to hire”).

Starbucks has said it expects to hire 70,000 people in the U.S. over the next six to 12 months, according to The Seattle Times, although the company has not said how many hires represent new positions rather than simply turnover. In his “Letter to America,” Schultz highlighted their pledge to break an economic “cycle of fear and uncertainty.” Schultz is positioning Starbucks as an agent for positive change at a time when U.S. unemployment is on the rise, the news media summarizes recent layoffs under headings like “Job killing companies” and finance giants such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and UBS—perhaps key barometers of stability—have been dramatically cutting their global workforces. Layoffs send out powerful messages to an anxious public, with the companies responsible becoming the target of consumer frustration and animosity. Given the climate, Starbucks’ stand can comfort consumers by championing their cause, at least until the company is forced into more layoffs of its own.

Photo credit: facebook.com/UpwardSpiral

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