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Conscience for your wallet

It used to be a part of our Sunday routine; after church we would stop by and get Starbucks.  My husband got a venti raspberry chai and I would decide between a peppermint hot chocolate and a hazelnut chai.  A few weeks ago I saw a letter to the store thanking them for supporting equality in marriage and it put a bitter taste in my mouth.  After a little looking online, I realized it was not just something that store had done, but Starbucks as a whole.  My mother-in-law got this response when she emailed that we will no longer be buying anything from Starbucks:
“At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and partners (employees) and recognize that there is genuine passion surrounding this topic. Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we will make decisions that are consistent with our values and heritage but may be inconsistent with the views of a particular group.
From our very earliest days, Starbucks has strived to create a company culture that puts our people first and treats everyone equitably. Our company has a lengthy history of leading on and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion, and we are proud to be one of several leading Northwest employers that support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality. We made this decision through the lens of humanity and our commitment to embracing diversity.”

It was easy to say we’ll never buy from Starbucks again, but it put a lot of thoughts in my mind that I have never thought about.  First, trying to figure out why companies need to take stands on things that don’t directly involve their business.  Importation taxation, fair trade coffee and the like are issues that relate to the business of Starbucks and make more sense to me than using their “guiding principle” of diversity to reach beyond the coffee world.  If a CEO wants to support political issues with his words and money, that is a better avenue to make a stand.

Secondly, I began to wonder how much business decisions should affect my purchases and if so, how do I find out what companies believe and support.  Starbucks is easy to pass over since there many other coffee shops.  In my looking for articles to link to in this post, I found out Microsoft and Nike supported the same bill Starbucks was supporting.  Nike is easy since I own nothing from them.  However, this post is being typed using a Windows 7 operating system and giving up Windows will be a much harder thing to do.

I am left with wondering how much influence company ethics and political views should have on my spending habits.  What do you do, if anything?  One thing is for sure, I am going to be more aware of where I spend my money (and I don’t want any gifts cards to Starbucks anymore).

Footnote about gay marriage: I firmly believe that marriage is between one man and one women.  And while I don’t condone the lifestyle, homosexuals should not be ridiculed as individuals.  The line is clear on marriage, but it’s a little more difficult to explain in individual relationships.  Maybe a post for some other day….

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One thought on “Conscience for your wallet

  1. I agree, there is definitely ethical and moral implications to where and how we spend our money. I am all for “voting with your wallet” to let a business know whether you approve or disapprove of their business practices, but, for me, I tie my purchase decisions more closely to the actual product I’m buying- was it manufactured by people who were working in safe conditions and paid a fair wage? Are the people at the store I’m shopping at paid a living wage and treated fairly? How far did this piece of food have to travel to get to me? Was it harvested by practically-slave labor? Was it grown with chemicals that harmed the surrounding residents? Is there a local/used/handmade alternative?

    Rather than considering “Do I agree with this company’s stance on an issue totally unrelated to what I’m buying?” I ask myself, “By buying this, am I loving my neighbor?”

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