Starbucks Encourages Civic Engagement

Our partners represent different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, religious affiliations, political views, thoughts and ideas. It is the inclusion of our partners’ diverse experiences and perspectives that create a culture of empowerment, one that fosters innovation, economic growth and new ideas. It is a culture of partners who want to make a positive difference – within our company as well as outside our stores.

At Starbucks, the opportunity to nurture and inspire the human spirit is, for so many of us, what the iconic green apron represents. We have a history of elevating our voices, sharing our aspirations and our concerns, and asking ourselves, “What is our role and responsibility as a for-profit company, and as citizens in a wider world?” 

At recent Starbucks Partner Open Forums in the U.S., China, and India and across our social platforms, our partners have shared their dreams and their worries, including inequality, homelessness, access to education, safety, food donation and frustration with local and national governments. The concerns raised go beyond what is good for our company to what is needed in our communities and countries.

These are not only the voices of Starbucks partners, but they are the voices of citizens as well. Citizens who care about their neighbors, not just their customers. Citizens who see complex problems, and care enough to find solutions. Citizens who refuse to be bystanders. 

For decades Starbucks has created meaningful connections with our customers and communities. More recently, in partnership with like-minded organizations, we’ve come up with creative solutions to open doors for veterans, Opportunity Youth, and students seeking debt-free college degrees. 

Most recently we, along with Marriot International, the Boys & Girls Club of America, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, demonstrated our support of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s initiative to improve the voter experience for all Americans.

Embarking on a multi-year effort to strengthen our democracy, Starbucks is making a digital tool from Turbovote accessible to all partners in the U.S. This tool makes registering to vote fast and secure from computers and mobile devices. Through Turbovote, anyone who is eligible to vote in the U.S. can register to vote and sign up for important reminders to stay engaged in local and national elections throughout the year. For partners who need their registration or absentee ballot sent to them, we will also cover the cost of postage. 

This is not the first time Starbucks has addressed voting. In 2012, we celebrated National Voter Registration Day by providing our partners a way to register using a digital tool. In 2008 we raised awareness of Election Day with customers in our stores. But given that fewer that 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 national elections, helping to increase voter turnout at the local and national level seems another meaningful way to use our scale for good. So, we will.

It does not matter if a ballot is cast for a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, for a local city council seat or for the 45th President of the United States. This is not about pushing a particular political agenda or candidate. And it is about far more than just the 2016 election. Our intention is nonpartisan, and it is simple: by helping to increase voter registration and participation, we believe more people will have an opportunity to make their voices heard.

We will not stop here. Promoting the importance of voting is but one way to elevate citizenship. Civic engagement and community service are also essential, and Starbucks is also in a unique position to positively affect these areas. And we will continue to encourage corporations, non-profits and other enterprises to consider what they can do to responsibly promote civic engagement as well. Soon, we will have more initiatives to share.