Build bridges not walls

Since Trump came into power it seems like it’s been one breaking news story after another! But this week has seen a huge surge in media attention and controversy after Trump set a 120-day travel ban on refugees and a 90-day travel ban on ‘most’ citizens from seven countries. The backlash from this has been incredible, but a story from one of the biggest coffee houses in the world has really got people talking.

This week, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an impassioned open letter to all partners (employees). Schultz reassured us that Starbucks would continue to support all employees, including those affected by the ban. He then went on to pledge that Starbucks would work towards hiring 10,000 refugees over 5 years across the 75 countries that Starbucks operate in.

Schultz made no secret of his opinion towards the recent political decisions of America’s leader as he opened the letter: “I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart” and continued “we have all been witness to the confusion, surprise and opposition to the Executive Order that President Trump issued on Friday”. Shultz recognised that there are over 65 million people classed as refugees in the world today, an he additionally highlighted the importance of Mexico, which has also been under heavy fire from some of Trump’s promises as president. The Starbucks CEO commented on the 7,000 employees Starbucks has in its 600 stores in the country, the coffee trade from the city of Oaxaca and stated that Starbucks will focus on “building bridges, not walls with Mexico”.

This statement form Starbucks, a top 50 company for innovation and valuable brands has opened the worlds eyes to the high quality human capital that immigrants and refugees offer, something that is so easily overlooked from the sweeping stereotypes media and political leaders offer.

A joint statement from the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration has been released to support this idea and made the point that allowing refugees into a country is: “A double win: first by rescuing some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and second by enabling them to enrich their new societies.”

Not only can these individuals add to the American workforce, or any other country’s workforce for that matter, but Schultz also highlighted that refugees have aided U.S. military. Some have offered services such as interpretation and support personnel in the past and now they are being denied an opportunity in return. It all appears extremely unjust that among the people being kept out of a country, could be potentially some of the most valued employees and it explains why the public is beginning to speak up.

No matter what your stance on America’s president Donald Trump or the travel ban policy, it is without doubt there will be missed opportunities. It may not only be refugees and immigrants affected but also the industries that could hire such individuals, as they miss out on a boost of human capital by being unable to integrate new employees.

The full statement from Howard Schultz can be read on the Starbucks website.

By Justine Mullan-Redwood

(Photo from Business insider .com)

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