The cup-writing phase of the Starbucks “Race Together” campaign ended Sunday, but the coffee giant said it is moving forward with other aspects of its widely criticized bid to heal race relations.

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The cup-writing phase of the Starbucks “Race Together” campaign ended Sunday, as the coffee giant said it is moving ahead with other aspects of its widely criticized bid to heal race relations in the U.S.

In a message to Starbucks staffers, CEO Howard Schultz said asking baristas to write “Race Together” or put similarly labeled stickers on coffee cups was “just the catalyst for a much broader and long term conversation,” an opening broadside always meant to last for just a week.

The cup-writing gesture immediately became a lightning rod for mockery on social media when the campaign launched last Monday; others criticized it as awkward or even opportunistic.

Since then, Schultz has defended the authenticity of his motives, and others have come out in support of Starbucks’ effort to tackle the thorny issue.

In his letter, Schultz said the race initiative “is far from over,” and that Starbucks will continue with employee forums to discuss race, as well as three more special newspaper sections discussing race produced with USA Today (the first was published Friday).

Starbucks will also hire 10,000 young people considered at risk (neither employed nor studying full time) and open more stores in inner cities.

“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” Schultz wrote in the message to staffers.

The race initiative is the latest of Starbucks’ efforts to throw the weight of its brand behind social and political issues that have little or nothing to do with its core business of selling coffee. The company says it’s trying to redefine the role of a publicly traded, for-profit corporation.