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Starbucks Tells Workers How to Respond to Questions About Howard Schultz

Starbucks reportedly instructed customer-facing employees this week on how to “diffuse” situations in which customers are expressing “aggressive political opinions” regarding former CEO Howard Schultz. According to HuffPost, the coffee giant’s “Barista Need-To-Know” weekly update memo included tips on how to handle chatty customers who want to talk about Schultz. If a customer shares an opinion or attempts to “investigate,” employees were told to say: “We respect everyone’s opinion. Our goal is simply to create a warm and welcoming space where we can all gather, as a community, over great coffee.” Should workers be asked about “Howard’s political intentions,” the coffee chain told them to say its former CEO’s “future plans are up to him.” If a customer asks for Schultz’s book, employees are instructed to say the store doesn’t sell the book—but it’s available in “bookstores and online.” One employee told the website that management at her store told workers “not to talk to customers about” Schultz, other than to say he was “a great CEO to work for.”