Starbucks: Speak Softly And Do The Right Thing

I’ve never understood why more corporations don’t go about their business more delicately than they do.
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On March 30, 2017, North Carolina repealed its hateful and misguided law, HB2. This was the famous “Bathroom Bill,” which was a thinly-veiled attack on the rights of the LGBTQ community, specifically transgender people.

The repeal happened after estimates showed the state was going to lose up to $3.7 billion in revenue due to boycotts. It’s sad that it takes greed to make people/legislators do the right thing, but whatever gets the job done, I guess.

After HB2 became law in 2016, Target was the focus of protests by hate groups like Faith2Action and the American Family Association. Why? Because Target announced that in their stores, transgender people could use whichever bathroom they identified with. Naturally, closed-minded and hate-driven people everywhere were upset. Target was to be boycotted, driven out of business, shamed, and so on and so forth. Target was targeted, pardon the pun, because they stood up for human rights.

What no one seems to have talked about or noticed, is at the same time Target was coming under fire, Starbucks quietly and deftly handled the problem.

I travel for work.

A lot.

I stop at a plethora of different Starbucks locations across the Midwest, and a few months after HB2 went into effect and Target came under fire, I noticed something: all the “Men’s Restroom” doors I had once walked through now said, “Restroom.”

Instead of one bathroom per gender, Starbucks simply made each bathroom unisex. Each room had a toilet, sink, and a lock. No stalls, no urinals. Which wasn’t a change; the men’s restroom had always been a sink and a toilet. All Starbucks changed was the placard outside the door. Easy. Peasy.

A Google search found a few hate posts regarding the change—someone always notices and raises a fuss—but the anger was nowhere near what Target faced.

(Or, to be fair, what Starbucks itself faces every December when their holiday cups come out and raises the ire of the “War on Christmas” knuckleheads.)

I’ve never understood why more corporations don’t go about their business more delicately than they do. Sure, you can make a proclamation, but that’s going to get you in trouble somehow, somewhere.

Take a stand for human rights? Awful people will pout and stomp their fists, creating a lot of noise and public relations headaches for you. Make a quiet change that in many ways no one will notice, but makes a world of difference to, say, a transgender person?

That’s win-win.

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