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(2021) CDF Dialogue: The Importance of Company Culture and Values

Howard Schultz, former CEO and Chairman Emeritus of Starbucks Coffee Company.

I have attended meetings that Starbucks host for the parents of our employees. It is one of the most extraordinary things that we do at Starbucks. We award the manager of the year on these meetings, and I remember an exceptional meeting that I attended two or three years ago. When we made the announcement for the manager of the year, the winner of the reward came to the stage, and he is greeted with a standing ovation from all of the colleagues. And when he is on the stage, two people enter walked down the aisle and entered the large assembly space that holds more than a thousand people. They were his parents, who spent live their whole life in rural China and have never been on an airplane. It was an extraordinary moment. I want to emphasize that this was not a moment about an American cooperation but our Chinese employees. It spoke to the values and the dream of China. It was the most magical moment through my 40 years at Starbucks. 

And again, it didn't happen in America. It happened in China.

Host (Lu Mai): The US society’s ethnic structure is gradually changing. Do you think the U.S. government and people are prepared to adapt to that?

People from different backgrounds, different colors of skin are living and getting along with each other every single day in every city and community in America.

Although the news often reports significant racial discrimination issues and stories, the majority of millions of Americans is longing for a society that values a sense of humanity, respect, and the sense of dignity for everyone. In my opinion, the future changes of the ethnic composition of the US society will not undermine the values and aspirations of Americans.

Like every other country, we have challenges, issues, political problems, but we will move forward. If we look back in history, the problems of the past were much greater than the problems and challenges that we are experiencing now and in the future.