Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, told CNBC on Friday that neither he nor the company is anti-Donald Trump, adding that he hopes the president-elect will address social issues previous Republican administrations have ignored.
“Obviously we all want the president-elect to do well, but Starbucks is going to have to do what we do based on the things that we can control," Schultz told CNBC, just a day after announcing he would step down as CEO in 2017.
Schultz publicly supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton throughout the presidential campaign and even endorsed her in September.
After Election Day, Schultz sent a letter to Starbucks staff saying he was "stunned" by the results. The now-outgoing CEO also took the opportunity to encourage employees to "answer challenges of the day with kindness in compassion."
"Whether you are pleased or disappointed by the outcome, we each still have a choice. Today and every day, we have a choice in how we treat one another in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and of course in our stores," Schultz wrote to employees.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, there were multiple incidents reported at Starbucks locations involving Trump supporters. In one instance, a Trump supporter in Florida was caught on camera berating a Starbucks employee for allegedly refusing to serve him because he supported the president-elect.
Around the same time that video surfaced, the social media campaign "Operation #TrumpCup" also gained traction.
The idea was for Trump supporters to visit Starbucks locations nationwide and ask employees to write "Trump" on their cup in lieu of the person's actual name. If the employee refused, the customers were encouraged to take a video.
In the interview, Schultz also addressed questions of whether campaigns like "Operation #TrumpCup" may indicate that Starbucks is "at odds" with Trump and his supporters.
"I don't think on any level that the brand or what we represent is at odds with the president-elect or his supporters," Schultz told CNBC. "Ninety million customers a week are going through Starbucks stores, and I assume many of them voted for Donald Trump."
Starbucks President and COO Kevin Johnson is expected to take over for Schultz in 2017.