Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman and former CEO credited with the brand's extreme growth, is stepping down from his position at the end of the month — with an eye toward a potential career in politics. The New York Times reports that while Mr. Schultz, 64, typically bats away speculation about his political ambitions with an eye roll or a pithy answer, on Monday he acknowledged for the first time that it's something he may consider.
“I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines,” he said in a statement The New York Times. “For some time now, I've been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world … One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there's a role I can play in giving back. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet.” Starbucks said Monday that Myron Ullman, former CEO of J.C. Penney, will become the next chair of Starbucks’ board.
Total Retail’s Take: Schultz has been vocal about his political views in years past, however, remained mum about his future personal political aspirations. Under his leadership at Starbucks, Schultz has made social impact and pay equity for all two primary goals of the brand. In a letter penned to the nearly 350,000 Starbucks employees around the world, Schultz wrote :
"As I prepare to step away, I'd like to humbly remind you not to lose sight of what matters most: your fellow partners and our customers. During all my years at Starbucks, in every weekly leadership meeting and quarterly board meeting, I always imagined two empty chairs in the room. One was for a partner and one for a customer. When I had to make a decision, I asked myself if the choice would make both proud. Today, I ask that you continue this tradition, and let the answer guide you. I promise the two chairs will serve you and the company well."
Schultz told The New York Times he planned to work on his family foundation and write a book about “social impact work and the efforts to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company.”