“I recognise that as an ally I can be a powerful voice”

Cindy Ross

Tell us a bit about yourself, your career, role in the business and how long you have been a partner?

My name is Cindy and I have been a partner for 20 years. I began my career with Starbucks in 2000 as a barista and worked my way up through the ranks to District Manager, which is a role I have held for nine years. I feel privileged to work for a company where I love what I do - a place where I have felt valued and included. In 2017, I was selected to go on the Starbucks Origin Experience to Rwanda. There I met farmers, their families and the communities of people responsible for growing our exceptional coffee. I visited our Farmers Support Centre and learned more about how we source coffee and the work Starbucks does to support our coffee farmers in the region. Starbucks is a company where we not only strive to be welcoming to our customers, but it’s a place where everyone is included and treated with respect. There is always more to do, but if Starbucks partners keep their Partner Promise to one another we will continue to move forward. Pride month reminds us why it is important to do that.

What does Pride Heritage Month mean to you, and why is it important to celebrate the landmark?

Aside from being a Starbucks partner I am also a mum. I have a daughter called Katie, and three step-children, Stacey, Steven and Kelly. Stacey and Kelly are lesbian and Steven is gay. I have always been an LGBTQ+ ally, but having Stacey, Steven and Kelly in my life has made me more aware of some of the challenges that people in the LGBTQ+ community face. It has also prompted me to further educate myself. I recognise that as an ally I can be a powerful voice not only for them, but for all LGBTQ+ people. I believe it is important not to be a bystander - simply calling someone out when they make an offensive remark can make a difference. This can at times lead to an uncomfortable conversation, but I am willing to take that risk. Pride Heritage Month presents an opportunity for me to express my support. It gives us all an opportunity to remember the actions of others that have led the LGBTQ+ community to this point, to recognise there is still more to do and to celebrate!

Who inspires me and why?

In the last year I have been privileged enough to be part of the Pride Alliance network. I have connected with a great group of LGBTQ+ partners and allies and have been inspired by them. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to dial into a call where we were joined by Helen Laryea-Dyer. Helen is the CEO of Bromley, UK based charity CASPA, who support around 400 autistic children, young people and their families in the borough. CASPA have recently set up a social and support club specifically for LGBTQ+ members and parents. She shared her personal and professional story with us. She wasn’t afraid to speak her truth and share her story in hope that she could inspire others.  Anyone with that level of courage inspires me.