Monday, 3 December 2012

Sorry George but we don't owe you a bean !

“For more than three decades, Starbucks had a storied history of being a great place to work, of ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality coffee beans” The above quote comes from the inside cover of  “Onward” by Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) . Ethical sourcing and roasting undoubtedly but clearly not ethical enough to pay a single bean of UK Corporation Tax. 

Thanks to the way the business is structured and expenses apportioned (I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of their accounting and tax avoidance) they have not paid one single penny in UK Corporation Tax. They allege that they made a loss in the UK.

Don’t get me wrong; what Starbucks have done is not illegal ! BUT it is clearly immoral. Add this corporate behaviour to the following examples of how to destroy trust:

·         Banks who rigged the libor rate
·         MPs who fiddled their expenses
·         News of the World journalists who hacked into mobile phones unlawfully.

Organisations exist in society and from a corporate social responsibility point of view should look to give something back which generally Starbucks has been pretty good at. But organisations if they want our trust and custom need to behave ethically and what Starbucks has done falls well short of the standards of acceptable behaviour.

I suggest, that if we as consumers demonstrate our abhorrence to this type of behaviour by taking our patronage elsewhere this will focus the minds of brands on how they should conduct their affairs.

 I could go on roasting Starbucks ….. . This morning I had a business meeting and whilst my tipple was the usual latte the venue wasn’t. You’re going to have to show a lot of contrition and a new behaviour to win my custom back and not become a has bean!

PS I’m not ignoring Google or Amazon who appear to have underpaid UK Corporation Tax allegedly

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