July 13, 2016 Sustainability

Starbucks Recognized as a “Best Place to Work”

Starbucks is being recognized as a “best place to work” after scoring 100 percent on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) survey.

The survey is a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S. Business Leadership Network. The index is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective assessment of their overall disability inclusion policies and practices.

In response, Lucy Helm – Starbucks evp, general counsel and secretary, Law & Corporate Affairs and chair of the Starbucks Inclusion Council – shared the following letter with partners (employees).


Dear partners,

In “Onward,” Howard described one of his trips to Japan where he discovered a handmade Braille Starbucks menu in our store. The menu was created after the team found that a customer who is blind was ordering drip coffee only because he was not aware of the other options available.  Howard described rubbing his finger across the Braille and wishing that “everyone at Starbucks could experience this with me.” 

This commitment to building a different kind of company, one where everyone is welcome and where inclusion is at the core of what we do, is what makes us proud to be partners. We strive in many ways to extend our commitment to disability inclusion and accessibility throughout the organization, with the recognition that one in five Americans has a disability and all of us will, at some point in our lives, experience changes to our physical or mental health.  We all share in the responsibility of creating a culture of warmth and belonging for one another and our customers.

Recognizing the ongoing disability inclusion efforts of many partners, it is my honor to announce that Starbucks received a 100% score on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) survey, sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities and the US Business Leadership Network.  For the second year in a row, Starbucks is being recognized as a “Best Place to Work.”

The DEI survey evaluates our disability inclusion efforts in the areas of culture, leadership, enterprise-wide access, employment practices, and community engagement. One of the efforts that influenced our DEI score is the Starbucks Inclusion Academy at the York Roasting Plant, which provided customized training and hired ten people with disabilities into the distribution center. Our Carson Valley Roasting Plant was the first plant to initiate the Inclusion Academy where 14 people with disabilities were hired last year.

We recognize that our partners are the key to our success and that creating an inclusive environment contributes to our strength as a company. In addition to offering flexible work schedules and comprehensive healthcare benefits, we provide onsite sign language interpreting services, real time captioning, and accessible software such as voice-to-text. This year, we also made iPads available in stores with Deaf partners to provide immediate Video Remote Interpreting as needed. Each of these efforts is being supported through a centralized disability accommodation budget to ensure we are getting our partners the tool and services they need, when they need them.  

We are also continuing to make enhancements in the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle. For example, we now provide assistive listening devices in our new Conference Center and are continuing to install more automatic door openers throughout the building.

Our support for partners and their families is also reflected in our comprehensive benefits package. We recently added additional coverage for partners with children with disabilities, including the autism assist program. The age limit for behavioral therapy for children has also been eliminated.

This commitment to creating a culture of belonging extends to our customers and shareholders as well. We proudly welcome service animals into our stores and have developed tools to elevate and enhance service to Deaf customers. We continue to provide Braille and large print menus, and are the only company to offer Braille gift cards in the stores all year round. I am also proud to share that this year we released our first Braille version of the Starbucks Annual Report.   

I continue to be humbled by the many ways in which our partners lead and inspire change – for their teams, their customers, and their communities.  A store in Canada has seen an increase in new customers because Sam, a partner with autism, is so enthusiastic about sharing his journey and building connections. A Deaf customer and Starbucks barista in St. Augustine, Florida motivated many people to learn more about American Sign Language (ASL) when another customer filmed the two communicating in sign language at the Drive Thru.  Just last week, I learned about three Deaf partners at our store at I-10 & Yale in Houston who are engaging with their partner team and local community in a unique way. Through ASL, electronic notepads and common gestures they are demonstrating how hearing and Deaf individuals can work seamlessly together.

I am pleased by the DEI recognition which is based on the contributions and efforts of many people across the company. We know that there is more we can do and we will continue our efforts to cultivate our culture of belonging and inclusion around the world. We want Starbucks to continue to be a place where people with disabilities want to work and visit.

With respect,

Lucy Helm, evp, general counsel and secretary, Law & Corporate Affairs and chair of the Starbucks Inclusion Council


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