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Starbucks orders a Venti for diversity

Recently, Starbucks announced changes to its hiring policies, linking executive compensation to improvements in inclusion efforts. It’s also vowing that by 2025, 30% of all corporate positions and 40% of retail and manufacturing jobs will be held by Black, Indigenous, or people of color.

We applaud this move. As a company that others look to, seeing Starbucks join the ranks of businesses making positive steps with specific, measurable goals and holding themselves accountable is refreshing and promises to be transformative for businesses across America.

So, what are they doing?

Starbucks says they will tie executive pay to meeting company-wide diversity goals – another positive step toward accountability.

They acknowledge their past shortcomings (notably closing all stores for a day in 2018 for mandatory antibias training).

Also notable is their focus on the executive suite, with specific diversity goals for that echelon.

And, they are being transparent about their current diversity levels – which are far below their goals. This, too, is a positive example to set for others.


It’s one thing to announce a policy like this. It’s quite another to put it into action and keep it going for the long haul.

You can’t just push the button to get to inclusion. If all it took was a stated commitment to a more inclusive workplace, we wouldn’t be in the place we are as a nation. After all, the federal government outlawed discrimination more than 50 years ago.

What, specifically, are the processes that Starbucks will be using to achieve their stated diversity goals? Without specific protocols in place, this could become another all-too-familiar example of corporate lip service to ride the coattails of a cultural movement.

The fact is, there are ways to achieve these diversity goals and achieve higher profitability. Research proves time and again that a more diverse and inclusive organization is a more profitable organization.

In our experience, there are Four P’s to a successful and sustainable inclusion program.

Process. What is your process for recruiting talent? Are you going to continue to do things the way you’ve always done them and hope for a change?

Protocol. Are your systems in writing? Does everyone involved in recruiting, hiring, and retaining your people know the protocols?

Procedure. If you have protocols, are they actually followed? Or are steps bypassed because of convenience and “everyday realities.”

People. Are your people committed? Do they share your vision, do they have a passion to achieve your goals?

Let’s be clear – Starbucks is on the right path. By setting specific diversity goals, by holding the executive suite accountable for achieving them, they set an example for others to aspire to. It’s our belief, based on the research, that a higher level of diversity and inclusion will result in higher profits. We hope that Starbucks can be transparent about this as well.

When a company like Starbucks steps up and makes a commitment to change, it makes news.

Let’s hope that it’s not just window dressing, but a hallmark of real change.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how your organization can achieve the top benefits of a more diverse and inclusive workforce, we have a process to get you there.

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