Starbucks Scraps ‘Race Together’ Campaign in Stores After Weeklong Backlash

“I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we did’t expect universal praise,” CEO Howard Schultz wrote in staff memo

Last Updated: March 23, 2015 @ 7:38 AM

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced the end of the company’s “Race Together” campaign in stores on Sunday night in a memo to staff.

Employees will no longer be encouraged to write the slogan on customers’ cups after a weeklong backlash aimed at the behemoth coffee chain’s efforts to open up a discussion on race issues.

“I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you – let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” chief executive Schultz wrote in a letter to staff and released by the company on Sunday. “We leaned in because we believed that starting this dialogue is what matters most.”

After the campaign kicked off last week, Starbucks received widespread criticism, and Schultz even appeared in media to clarify that the company’s intentions were to open up a dialogue on race — not offend anyone.

“This phase of the effort — writing ‘Race Together’ (or placing stickers) on cups, which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22,” Schultz wrote.

“Race Together” activities will go on as planned over the next few months, including open forum discussions and special sections in USA Today.

The company has also committed to hiring 10,000 disadvantaged youth in the next three years while also opening up new stores in minority communities.

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