Howard Schultz steps down as Starbucks chairman

The company has won many awards for its social initiatives, which include its having become one of the first U.S. companies to offer comprehensive health benefits to both part-time as well as full-time employees — including coverage for domestic partners — and having started stock ownership and free college tuition programs for its workers.

The company forfeited a day’s revenue last week by shutting all of its 8,000 U.S. stores to train its workers in “racial-bias education” after the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia store in April.

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At the same time, Starbucks has been widely criticized for business practices that skeptics say drive out small, locally owned coffee shops and for allegedly having failed to pay its full share of taxes in Great Britain.

In a memo to employees, Schultz said Monday that “no person or company is ever perfect,” but he wrote that he was proud that the company had balanced “profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”

“Amid the chaos, try to listen with empathy, respond with kindness, and do your best to perform through the lens of humanity,” he wrote. “Do not be a bystander.”

For more than a year, speculation has swirled that Schultz, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, is gearing up to run for president in 2020.

He told CNN in February that he wouldn’t be a candidate, but when asked about the prospect again in an interview Monday with The New York Times, he replied: “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”

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In October 2016, a month before Trump was elected, WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign revealing that Schultz had been under consideration to be Clinton’s running mate, a role that eventually went to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

Schultz said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October 2014 that many of America’s problems stemmed from years of institutional failures in Washington.

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