Starbucks plans to hire 10,000 refugees after Trump action on immigration

Starbucks has announced it plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries, just days after US President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from certain countries. Many tech sector firms have responded to the policy too.VIDEO: REUTERS
Howard Schultz speaks during a Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle in 2015.
Howard Schultz speaks during a Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle in 2015.PHOTO: AFP

SEATTLE, Washington (Bloomberg) - Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz, who wrote he had a "heavy heart" over US President Donald Trump's immigration order, said the company plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years around the world.

Trump issued an order on Jan 27 suspending the admission of refugees into the US for 120 days and banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. The directive has been criticised by US allies Canada and Germany.

Starbucks is in direct contact with employees affected by the immigration ban and will do "everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period," Schultz said in a letter to employees posted on the coffee chain's website. Schultz also said that he and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson, who is due to take over the CEO role this year, will begin communicating with workers more frequently.

"I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners," Schultz wrote.

Schultz said he strongly supported the "Dreamers" program, designed to help immigrants who arrive in the US as children.

Boycott Threat In posting the letter, Schultz delivered one of corporate America's fiercest rebukes against Trump's immigration order. The message also brought a backlash from some Americans.

The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending in the U.S. on Monday morning. But Schultz wasn't alone in criticizing Trump's move.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, an immigrant from India, called the policy "painful," and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said it's "not a policy we support".

Trump wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico and possibly pay for it with a 20 per cent tax on Mexican imports in a bid to stem illegal immigration.

Schultz wrote that the company would "help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans". Starbucks "will continue to invest" in Mexico, he wrote.

"We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question," he said.