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Starbucks presses ahead with USA Today on next phase of 'Race Together' initiative

(March 22, 2015) Following the controversial launch of its "Race Together" initiative to encourage conversations among customers and workers about ethnic diversity, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz announced the next step in an open letter to the company's employees and partners.

In the next phase, Starbucks and USA TODAY will jointly publish more than two million national inserts and stand alone specials entitled "Race Together." A digital hub at is being launched as a place for the public to share stories with, and reactions to the campaign.

Encouraging thousands of its baristas to write "Race Together" on Starbucks cups was, Schultz said, just a catalyst for a much longer term conversation, and was originally planned to end March 22. "Our objective from the very start of this effort -- dating back to our first open forum in Seattle last December -- was to stimulate conversation, empathy and compassion toward one another," wrote Schultz, "and then to broaden that dialogue beyond just our Starbucks family to the greater American public by using our scale for good."

Some critics of the initiative say that Starbucks' good intentions would have been better served if the company had first chosen to disclose what it has done internally to encourage diversity and economic fairness. Its past business relationships with Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey and other prominent African-Americans are widely known. However, little has been revealed, they say, about its policies and practices with respect to contracting with minority business owners and advertising in Black-owned media.

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