Washington, DC

If corporations are “people,” as the Supreme Court determined in the landmark Citizens United political financing ruling, do they also have moral responsibilities? And how is the public to react to companies that take activist actions in ongoing culture wars, such as LGBTQ laws, health care policies and climate change?

Those questions will be considered during a rare opportunity at the Washington National Cathedral when Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, and Rev. Yolanda Pierce, dean of the Howard Divinity School, take the stage for a public discussion called “Corporate Activism & Moral Responsibility in a 21st Century Democracy.”

  • Schultz is no stranger to the discussion. When Donald Trump barred travelers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Schultz announced Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries. He took a firm stance against the Republican tax plan, calling it a mistake despite the personal benefits to him. He stepped down from the company’s leadership in June amid racial controversy at the coffee shop chain that caused it to shut down stores for racial bias training.
  • Yolanda Pierce, Phd, is a former professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary and is the first female dean at Howard University’s School of Divinity. Her teaching and research involve African American religious history, “womanist theology” and race and religion.
  • Adi Ignatius, the  editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review, will moderate the event. Adi is a former executive editor at TIME magazine — it was under his watch the magazine chose controversial and surprising “People of the Year.”

The conversation will take place Tuesday, October 16, at 7 p.m. Tickets ($15) can be purchased here.


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