Is Hiring Refugees Hurting Starbucks?

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Starbucks took a stand against President Donald Trump's travel ban in January, renewing the company's commitment to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide—a promise many praised, but one that may have also cost the company, literally.

Analysts at Credit Suisse warn the coffee company's decision could negatively impact its sales in the near term, CNBC reports. "Our work shows a sudden drop in brand sentiment following announcement of the refugee hiring initiative on Jan. 29th," an analyst noted.

Meanwhile, YouGov BrandIndex says Starbucks' consumer perception levels have fallen by as much as two-thirds since its announcement. And that could translate into lost revenue for the brand: Just days before Starbucks' announcement, 30 percent of coffee drinkers said they'd buy a cup of Joe from the chain. And now, just 24 percent of consumers say the same, YouGov says. As one Facebook poster put it, "Upon hearing about your decision to hire 10,000 refugees instead of Americans I will no longer spend any money at Starbucks."

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced the company's commitment to hire 10,000 refugees after Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from several nations.

"We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world," Schultz wrote at the time. "This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution, and discrimination."

Some consumers who are boycotting the brand are doing so because they believe the company is hiring refugees in place of Americans—namely, the veterans and military spouses Starbucks promised to begin hiring back in 2013. However, as of Thursday, the company says it has hired more than 8,800 veterans and military spouses. The number of refugees hired since the company's announcement was not immediately available.

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