As I said in my last post, I admire Starbucks for the business they have built and the brand they have created. Due to the prompt for that post, Starbucks has come under attack in social media through the #BoycottStarbucks movement. My goal with this post is to help others see where this attack is misplaced and how easy it is to find the truth for yourself.
Now, before I get to the point of this post, I want to sincerely thank all future, current and past U.S. Armed Forces service members and reservists, for your service to our country. The value of what you will do, have done and do today for us can not be measured. Our military veterans have been neglected and under appreciated by many, and they deserve better. What follows is in no way a dismissal of the need to better support and care for our veterans. It is simply meant to set the record straight on what Starbucks is doing and has done for U.S. military veterans, reservists and active duty military members and families. With that said, here we go...
A Facebook friend posted a meme-like photo the other day which told Starbucks they should hire 10,000 veterans instead of 10,000 refugees. (He served in the U.S. Air Force, and as such, I'm sure he felt a strong connection to this message.) In the comments of his post, someone responded that Starbucks already has a program in place for hiring veterans, but they provided no data to support what was being done. Curious to see what Starbucks has been doing for veterans, I did a little digging. It didn't take me long to discover they actually do a lot for veterans, reservists and active duty service members and their families.
What I found immediately, and what the #BoycottStarbucks response is missing, is that Starbucks cares deeply about U.S. veterans and current military service members, along with other people in need of employment, and many other important things. In November of 2013, Starbucks announced they would hire 10,000 U.S. military veterans and active duty spouses by the end of 2018. Since 2014, Starbucks has hired 8,800 U.S. veterans and military spouses, and will continue to do so, marching towards their goal of 10,000 by the end of 2018.
While the initiative calls for hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses, given the level of communication and support they're showing for this initiative, I would be shocked if they choose to shut it off at 10,000, even though that was the stated goal. If they keep at their current rate, at 4,400 veterans and military spouses hired per year, they'll hit 17,600 by the end of 2018, surpassing their goal by 7,600. As you can see in the ad they're running on TV currently, they are proud to say they've hired 8,000 veterans to date. They show that number before they show any other number that relates to their partners, which shows how important it is to them (I've been in the meetings where you're storyboarding a TV commercial. This stuff gets thought through in detail. It isn't put together randomly.)
As I dug deeper, I found more proof that Starbucks cares about our military. They offer reservists a military service pay benefit which provides eligible partners with up to 80 hours of pay each year when their service obligations take them away from their work at Starbucks. They also provide a military allowance for eligible partners when they are called to active duty. If a partner's military pay is less than their rate of pay when the absence begins, Starbucks pays the difference.
The last thing I did was revisit the letter from Howard Schultz to all the Starbucks partners (employees), which included the announcement about the 10,000 refugee hiring program. What I saw, is that Starbucks is launching the initiative in the U.S. by making the initial focus of their hiring efforts on people who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and military support personnel in the various countries around the world where our military has asked for such support. It's important to note that the 10,000 refugees jobs plan is for worldwide hires, not hires within the United States alone. As you can see in the full statement regarding refugees, copied here from the letter sent to Starbucks partners over the weekend, this pledge is over the next 5 years across the 75 countries in which Starbucks does business.
Hiring Refugees: We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world. This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market partners as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination. There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.
Even with all of this, I'm sure some will still say, "They should still hire Americans first!" Well, being a global business, Starbucks has to do what's best for their business in each country they operate in. They can't just do what's best for the U.S. and dismiss the rest of their stores around the world, nor can they try to operate in other countries just as they do in the U.S. A key part of their success is having the partners working in stores be members of the community each particular store serves. If there are no U.S. veterans applying for jobs in certain stores, or U.S. veterans aren't living in those communities, they can't hire them. And in some cases, it could possibly do more harm than good for Starbucks to place a U.S. military veteran in a store as a partner in certain communities around the globe.
I get it. We're living in some pretty crazy times, and because of this, our nature is to react in just as crazy of a fashion. While I've been guilty of this myself in some instances, I now see that the best thing we can all do is slow down and do some digging before we respond to what we're seeing. Not only is the internet is a great tool for rapidly launching an angry message via social media, it's also a fantastic tool for researching things to make ourselves smarter about the crazy things we're reading, seeing and hearing. If we keep attacking each other, we're just going to keep tearing the country apart. We have to let cooler heads and informed dialogue prevail.