Each year since 2001, Starbucks has reported on its efforts to make a positive impact in the communities it serves. Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson reflects on our progress and shares the company’s results for the 2019 fiscal year.
Dear Starbucks partners, customers and stakeholders:
As we provide our 19th annual update on our global social impact activity, we also sit at a significant time in history that’s requiring major changes to our business around the world as quickly and dynamically as possible to meet the needs of our partners, customers and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starbucks partners are showing how resilient they are in ways no one dreamed about a year ago. They’re upping the ante every day on what our company represents: Using the ritual of connecting over coffee to uplift the everyday experience and drive deeper human connection.
Each one of us at Starbucks is forever changed from this pandemic, as are the communities we serve. It has underscored how important serving our customers and communities is to us, and it’s brought new perspective and resonance to the ability Starbucks has to make the world a better place. This time is historic in an additional way, as many of our communities are coming together to protest racial injustice and highlight the vast improvement necessary in the way society treats people of color. Clearly, current events are showing us that executing our global social impact agenda successfully is now more important than ever.
Investing in people and the planet
Decades ago, Starbucks developed an agenda of global social impact priorities. In broad strokes, our investments have centered around balancing our role as a for-profit company with the betterment of people and the planet.
That means we invest in people – especially our partners, so they in turn can support people in the communities we serve. It also means we recognize healthy human lives depend on healthy ecosystems, so we work to better the health of our natural resources. As a result, we now have a long-term aspiration to be a resource positive company – storing more carbon than we emit, providing more clean freshwater than we use, and eliminating waste.
We can be proud of our Global Social Impact progress in fiscal year 2019. We continued working to put partners first and create a culture where everyone is welcome, including conducting a first-time, third-party Civil Rights Assessment that we continue to consider and implement. We worked to strengthen the communities where Starbucks partners live and work, expanding innovative grants, investments and community service models.
We also invested in the future of greener cups, packaging and retail, foreshadowing a much larger aspiration we announced in January 2020. We invested heavily in supporting coffee communities, including dispersing a $20 million Emergency Farmer Relief Fund to support smallholder farmers in Central America experiencing the effects of low global coffee prices.
As a testament to our increasing commitment to our people and planet priorities, we were proud late last year to hire our first global chief officer of sustainability, Michael Kobori; our first global chief officer of inclusion and diversity, Nzinga Shaw; and our first global chief officer of ethics and compliance, Tyson Avery.
Now in mid-2020, the world has changed, the needs are even greater, and we continue to thoughtfully examine how Starbucks can most responsibly and constructively serve our communities and our planet going forward.
The crisis we are navigating has underscored that our world is small, and we need to take care of it and each other. We understand the interdependency of the health of humanity and the health of the planet. We embrace diverse voices participating in these conversations, so we can hear varying points of view to make the best decisions. We feel the threat of greater economic disparity in the future, as COVID-19 is often impacting socioeconomically disadvantaged communities more than others.
From the onset of the pandemic, we have moved swiftly to take actions to address our people and planet priorities. We’ve acted to address urgent needs related to COVID-19 as detailed and updated here. As an example, Starbucks has committed to a first-of-its-kind $10 million emergency relief fund for partners in both company-operated and licensed retail store markets around the world.
In the U.S. and Canada, we were able to provide temporary benefits for partners, more support for food banks and free coffee for first responders and frontline healthcare workers. Starbucks partners are innovating in other timely, locally meaningful ways. Our partners in Asia have led the way in organizing food and coffee donations to hospitals, nonprofits, local police and health officials, and other frontline workers. And our partners around the world have echoed those demonstrations of gratitude.
During the pandemic, we’ve had to pause on allowing reusable cups. But we continue our commitment to shift to more reusable packaging as well as more fully recyclable and compostable packaging, ensuring we also prioritize health and safety. This requires innovation from our own experts as well as many other alliances.
Meanwhile, The Starbucks Foundation continues to invest millions of dollars to support a variety of organizations, extending emergency assistance to those in need while also helping to build a path towards recovery and resilience.
This is who we are
Making a positive social impact runs deep at Starbucks. Since the beginning, our purpose has gone beyond profit. We believe in the pursuit of doing good. The idea of Starbucks being a Third Place for the community to gather means our stores have often served not only as a place for human connection, where everyone can feel welcome, but also as a beacon of hope and resilience during crisis – whether that’s the aftermath of an earthquake, hurricane or a wildfire, or now as we re-open and strive to provide some normalcy in the midst of the global pandemic.
As always, Starbucks partners are the best champions of how to serve their own communities. We’re finding success when we gain insights from the field, provide resources and tools to help inform local decisions, and enable partners to take actions that are locally relevant. Just as this approach applies to navigating the day-to-day COVID-19 situation as it varies in markets around the world, it also applies to defining relevant community service activities and guiding The Starbucks Foundation’s approach to addressing local communities’ needs. And it applies to our teams in our nine Farmer Support Centers in coffee-growing regions worldwide as they serve the needs of coffee farmers and their communities.
Because of our partners’ inspiring daily actions, I’m more optimistic than ever that we can overcome this global challenge and emerge with deeper perspective about the role we should be playing as a for-profit enterprise that also has a great deal of power to make positive global social impact.
As Starbucks approaches its 50th anniversary in 2021, I hold those thoughts in my mind every day – that as we evolve our business in major ways, we must stay true to our heritage and what we stand for: People positive, planet positive and profit positive, working as partners to create a different kind of company for the next
Starbucks president and ceo