For more than 40 years, Starbucks has demonstrated its financial performance is driven through the lens of humanity. Starbucks was one of the first retailers to offer health insurance to its part-time and full-time partners (employees), 20 years ahead of the Affordable Care Act.
In 2015, Starbucks continued to innovate and establish industry-leading benefits and opportunities for its partners to ensure that the company’s success is shared.
Grounded in its Mission and Values, Starbucks launched and expanded a series of initiatives aimed at creating pathways to opportunities for its partners and the communities it serves around the globe.
Starbucks chairman and ceo Howard Schultz held an impromptu meeting for all partners in December of 2014 at the company’s Seattle headquarters. The topic of conversation was uncommon in a corporate setting – racial tension in America. Many partners said it was “the most emotional, powerful discussion” they’ve ever been a part of. For more than an hour, Starbucks partners representing various ages, races and ethnicities passed a microphone and shared personal experiences. “The current state of racism in our country is almost like humidity at times. You can’t see it, but you feel it,” said one partner.
That first gathering in the Starbucks Support Center (SSC) led to a series of unprecedented conversations about race with partners. These discussions took place in cities across America, and on stage at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The forums shaped Starbucks commitment to create opportunities for all. In addition, Starbucks partnered with author Bryan Stevenson to carry his award-winning best seller “Just Mercy” in its stores.
Opportunity Hiring Commitments in the U.S. and Canada
At the Annual Meeting of Shareholders in March, Starbucks pledged to hire at least 10,000 young people between the ages of 16-24 who are not in school or employed. With an estimated 6 million young adults in that situation in the U.S., and as many as 300 million around the world, this is one of the biggest issues of our time. Young men and women in this demographic are often referred to as “opportunity youth” not only because they are seeking opportunities, but because they represent an untapped opportunity for businesses needing new talent.
Later in the year, Starbucks Canada took a bold step toward tackling national youth unemployment. In November it announced that 10 percent of new hires in stores will be opportunity youth, and over the next three years it will create 600 work placements for youth who are not ready for their first job yet.
The 1,000th Apprenticeship
Starbucks UK offered its 1,000th apprenticeship through a program that recruits, trains and retains young talent for the business.
Almost half of Starbucks partners are under the age of 24, an age group facing the most significant challenges around employment. Starbucks Apprenticeships, launched in the UK in 2012, offer young people an opportunity to learn about retail management careers and to build the transferable skills needed to further their individual goals.
"With 21 graduated apprentices becoming store managers and 57 shift supervisors, it proves to us that apprenticeships for young people are a genuine alternative to academic study and are a real path to a retail career,” said Lisa Robbins, director of Partner Resources for Starbucks UK. “We are passionate about the true potential for apprenticeships and want to bust the myth that a vocational route is not as credible as pursuing higher education."
Also in the UK, Starbucks announced it will help pay rental deposits for partners and extend the National Living Wage to all partners, regardless of age.
Global Month of Service
Throughout the year partners volunteer with nonprofit organizations in their communities. Customers join these efforts in April of each year as part of Starbucks Global Month of Service. In 2015, Starbucks community efforts focused on the opportunity youth population as partners worked with nonprofits that support young people.
“It’s easy to sit on the sidelines. It’s harder to get out of your seat and do something. But when you do, the rewards are immeasurable. You start believing you’re serving others and eventually realize that you have gained more than you’ve given,” said Blair Taylor, Starbucks chief community officer.
Momentum Builds with the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative and Hiring Fairs
Efforts to create opportunities for young people accelerated in July when more than a dozen leading U.S.-based companies announced the formation of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative – the nation’s largest employer-led coalition committed to creating pathways to meaningful employment for America’s young people who are currently not in school and not working. Since that announcement, thousands of young adults have found work through the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative Opportunity Fairs and Forums.
At the first hiring event in Chicago more than 30 employers extended 600 immediate job offers. 22-year-old Raven Myers was among the 4,000 young adults looking for her first job that day. Today, Myers is a Starbucks barista offering encouragement to others, stating: “I think everybody has a skill and you just have to showcase that skill.”
A similar hiring fair in Phoenix in October resulted in 500 job offers for young people. A third coalition-led hiring fair and forum is scheduled for Los Angeles in February 2016.
Opening Stores in Diverse, Urban Communities
Starbucks announced it will open stores in 15 diverse, low- to medium-income urban communities across the U.S., with at least five stores expected to open in 2016. These locations will have an onsite training space where young people can learn valuable customer service and retail skills. In addition, Starbucks will hire 20 to 25 partners from the local community for each of the stores.
Starbucks will open the first of these stores in the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, New York early in 2016. It recently broke ground for a new store in Ferguson, Missouri. Starbucks partner Cordell Lewis, who resides in the Ferguson area, will be the first store manager. He said he looks forward to managing a store where “everyone is treated with respect, whether they’re coming in for a glass of water after they’ve come in on the bus from their job or they want to get a beverage while they’re studying for a test at the community college.”
Starbucks College Achievement Plan
Making a good thing even better, Starbucks and Arizona State University (ASU) expanded 100 percent tuition coverage for every eligible U.S. Starbucks partner. Full tuition coverage was available to juniors and seniors when the program launched in 2014. Beginning in April 2015, Starbucks and ASU extended full-tuition reimbursement to all eligible partners including sophomores and freshmen.
"Everyone deserves a chance at the American dream," said Howard Schultz when making the announcement. “By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we will provide them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity. We're stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success."
Congratulations to 55 Starbucks College Achievement Plan partners who graduated from ASU in 2015.
Opportunity for Veterans and Military Spouses
Starbucks is more than halfway to its goal of creating career opportunities for at least 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.
To better address the needs of partners who are active duty or reservists in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard, Starbucks announced a new pay-for-service-benefit in November of 2015 that will cover up to 80 hours of pay each year for service obligations. In addition, the Starbucks College Achievement Plan education benefit expanded to provide partners who are current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with an additional tuition-covered education to extend to a spouse or child.
The company dedicated 16 Starbucks Military Family Stores this year, with plans to have 30 across the country by the end of 2016. These stores employ many baristas and managers who are veterans or military spouses. Starbucks® stores are also the locations for a Military Mondays program that brings together veterans and law students with the expertise to resolve disability-compensation challenges and other legal issues. The program started near William & Mary and expanded to serve the needs of veterans and their families at a Starbucks near the University of California Irvine.
Supplier Diversity, and Supporting Disability and Inclusion Hiring
What do Starbucks green straws and cake pops have in common? Both products are from long-time suppliers to Starbucks and are minority-owned business. Starbucks award-winning supplier diversity program entails developing business relationships with companies that are at least 51 percent owned and operated by a minority, woman, LGBT, veteran or person with a disability. The program dates to the late 1990s and has been surging since the 2008 financial crisis, which prompted the company to lean harder on its values.
Starbucks has long valued diversity and inclusion as part of its mission and guiding principles. This includes hiring partners with varied backgrounds and working with them to find opportunity and success in their careers. In June 2015, Starbucks scored 100 out of 100 on a new Disability Equality Index survey, a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S. Business Leadership Network.
Starbucks largest coffee roasting plant in York, Pennsylvania also launched a program for people with disabilities called the Starbucks Inclusion Academy. A similar program started at Starbucks largest distribution facility near Carson City, Nevada.
Opportunities for Farmers and Coffee Farming Communities
In addition to creating opportunities for its partners and the communities where Starbucks stores are located, the company is dedicated to its farmers in coffee growing regions around the world.
One of the ways Starbucks supports farmers is through the One Tree for Every Bag Commitment which kicked off in September. Every time a customer purchases a bag of coffee in one of Starbucks participating U.S. stores over the next year, a rust-resistant coffee tree will be planted on a C.A.F.E. Practices farm. See how it's making a difference for farmers in Chiapas, Mexico.
To further ensure farm family livelihoods for generations to come, Conservation International, Starbucks and other industry leaders announced a call to action to make coffee the first sustainably sourced agricultural product in the world.
For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom