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Starbucks’ Socially Responsible Business


Starbucks Corporation has built a reputation connected to “green” practices and conscious business decisions that benefit everyone from the corporation’s employees to the farmers where the coffee is grown. For example, Starbucks actively advertises their high rankings in Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” 2012 as well as their pride in taking a holistic approach to their business by using responsible purchasing practices and forest conservation programs. Furthermore, Starbucks takes a strong stand on the negative effects of climate change and conveys the company’s efforts to reduce deforestation and conserve energy boldly on their website and in stores. In addition, packages and cups of Starbucks coffee advertise that the coffee is Fair Trade. The Starbucks website states, “Over the last five years, Starbucks has been addressing the impacts of climate change and associated environmental risks on coffee production, and to effectively communicate this work to key stakeholders…” This statement furthers the argument that Starbucks has a good and responsible reputation, as it seems clear to consumers that Starbucks makes a valiant effort to make moral and socially responsible decisions in their business model.

Interestingly enough, it can be said that Starbucks pushes these socially responsible practices even further because of the positive correlation to profitability. This is because the Starbucks customer is known to be one that deeply cares about these same issues, and chooses Starbucks over its competitors like Dunkin Donuts because they believe they are supporting a socially responsible company. Therefore, I believe Freeman would argue that Starbucks is a stakeholder organization and has not followed the Separation Thesis because there is in fact a connection between business and ethics. Freeman may even use Starbucks as an example for how companies can be successful by connecting business decisions with ethical decisions because it is clear that the ethical decisions that Starbucks makes actually creates profit instead of unnecessarily spending the money of shareholders. Interestingly enough, I believe Friedman would have a hard time disagreeing with Freeman because Starbucks uses these moral practices to engage in activities designed to increase its profits, which is exactly what Friedman says is the one and only social responsibility of a business.

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