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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek February 20, 2020

Starbucks exec didn’t say she dislikes white people

If Your Time is short

  • Rosalind Brewer said her executive team at Sam’s Club (where she worked before joining Starbucks) was diverse, and said she tries to use her platform to set an example and encourage diversity in the workforce.
  • Brewer is Starbucks’ chief operating officer and group president, not the CEO.

Don’t fall for social posts with the headline "NEW Starbucks CEO Has Admitted She Doesnt Like White People." They are not true.

For one thing, the executive mentioned in one post, Rosalind Brewer, is the chief operating officer and group president of Starbucks, not the CEO. But the bigger flaw is in its mischaracterization of something Brewer said in 2015, when she worked for another company. In a CNN interview, she expressed a desire for diversity in the workplace and corporate leadership; she never said anything to suggest she has a problem with white people.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

At the time of the CNN interview, Brewer was CEO of Sam’s Club.

The interview was primarily about how Sam’s Club employees were affected by various state and city decisions to raise the minimum wage. Near the end of the interview CNN’s Poppy Harlow shifted the conversation. 

She pointed out that Brewer, as a black woman, was in a unique position as a minority in a corporate executive role. Harlow then asked Brewer whose responsibility it is to make the decisions that increase representation for women like Brewer in corporate leadership positions.

"It starts with the top of many companies. It has to start with top leadership," Brewer said. "I can tell you that even with myself, I have to live it also. My executive team is very diverse, and I make that a priority. I demand it of my team and within the structure."

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Brewer acknowledged that sometimes she considers it her responsibility to use her platform to encourage her partners to think about diversity in hiring. She said she also demands diversity considerations in the hiring process and talks to her suppliers about diversity as well. Then, she brought up one incident in particular.

"Just today, we met with a supplier, and the entire other side of the table was all Caucasian males," Brewer said in the interview. "I decided not to talk about it directly with his folks in the room, because there were actually no females, like, levels down. So I’m going to have to place a call to him."

Brewer did not say she disliked white people in general, or anyone at all. Neither did she identify the supplier in question, other than mentioning which day the meeting occurred.

The post also erroneously says Brewer succeeded Howard Schultz as CEO in 2017. 

In September 2017, Starbucks named Brewer its group president and chief operating officer. Kevin Johnson is Starbucks president and CEO, and he has been since April 2017.

Our ruling

The Facebook post claims that Starbucks’ CEO has "admitted" to disliking white people, basing its claim on a CNN interview with Brewer. 

In the interview cited, Brewer talks about how she encourages hiring women and minorities for executive roles. She does not say anything about disliking white people. And in reality, she is the chief operating officer, not CEO. 

We rate this post False.

Our Sources

Daily Political News, "NEW Starbucks CEO Has Admitted She Doesnt Like White People," Dec. 22, 2019

CNN Money, "Sam's Club CEO: Wages will keep rising," accessed Feb. 18, 2020

Snopes, "Did Starbucks’ Exec Rosalind Brewer Say She Dislikes White People?" Oct. 14, 2019

Washington Post, "Sam’s Club CEO called ‘racist’ for remarks on diversity," Dec. 15, 2015

Starbucks Stories and News, "Executive Team: Kevin Johnson," accessed Feb. 18, 2020

Starbucks Stories and News, "Executive Team: Rosalind (Roz) Brewer," accessed Feb. 18, 2020

Starbucks Stories and News, "Starbucks Names Rosalind Brewer Group President and Chief Operating Officer," Sept. 6, 2017

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Starbucks exec didn’t say she dislikes white people

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