Starbucks' CEO Announced Big Changes Are Coming

Howard Schultz, the founder and recently returned CEO of Starbucks, published a letter on the Starbucks website on July 11, detailing his vision for the company's future. To say it comes at a tumultuous time is a bit of an understatement. Since August 2021, when the first Starbucks cafe in Buffalo began its push for unionization, Starbucks has been embroiled in a struggle against workers who seek to be represented by a union.

Even now, it is hard to remove Schultz's looking ahead from current events in the union struggle. For example, July 11 also saw the National Relations Labor Board (NRLB) start its court case against Starbucks before an administrative judge in Buffalo (per Politico). The argument the NLRB is making is that Starbucks unlawfully fired workers for their pro-union activities. In the best-case scenario for the NLRB, the judge could issue a cease-and-desist against Starbucks throughout the country. "Starting today, after months of investigating, the Labor Board is prosecuting [Starbucks] for over 200 violations of labor law in Western NY ALONE," the Twitter account for Starbucks Workers United announced.

Evidently, a radical reimagining of how corporate Starbucks interacts with its partners is needed, which might be why Schulz latched onto the word "reinvention" in his recently-released statement.

Details of Howard Schultz's plan for Starbucks will have to wait

While current events may have inspired Howard Schultz to reinvigorate his beloved company, they play no part in the vision set out by his memo. He believes that Starbucks can be a force for good. "However," he continues, "like so much of the world right now, the Starbucks business as it is built today is not set up to fully satisfy the evolving behaviors, needs and expectations of our partners or customers." The rest reads with the same letter of detail as this diagnosis.

In fairness, while Schulz did not set down any concrete plans for what an evolution in the Starbucks business would look like, he did present a preview of the various "re–" words that would inform the "reinvention." The new Starbucks would re-think the company's vision, renew relations with their retail partners, reimagine their store experience to promote ease and "a planet positive impact," reconnect with customers by creating moments, and redesign the partnership so both can thrive.

Additionally, Schulz offered some values that would reportedly be core to Starbucks going forward: Starbucks will be a safe environment with advancement opportunities for its partners. With a major anti-union executive having left the company in June, there is the possibility that when details for the new Starbucks do drop, they will please all involved.