Meet your Barista, Asma

“I’m forever grateful to Starbucks – I’m not just 'a partner', I’m part of the family”

Starbucks has a long history of supporting equal opportunities, inclusion and diversity in its workforce as part of its founding mission and values. This World Refugee Day, we invited a store partner, Asma, to share her journey and some of the challenges that she went through.

Originally from Iran, Asma moved to the U.K. six years ago on her own in search of a better life, knowing she had to start again from nothing: “I left everything behind – my family, my friends, everything”.

Some of her biggest fears when she landed in the U.K. were learning English, fitting in, and adapting to a new culture. “I can communicate easily when I speak to people who know me, however I struggled a lot and even get scared when they don’t know me”. It was when she started working at Starbucks and interacting with customers and partners every day that she became more confident and overcame some of these fears.

“I didn’t learn the language really by going to college or university, I learnt it here, at work in Starbucks – through everyday conversations with customers”.

Asma, who is now a four-year partner, joined Starbucks through Ashley Community Housing, an award-winning specialist housing and training provider for refugees, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and migrant individuals – within a week she got the job in a kiosk store in the Bullring, Birmingham. When asked about her greatest Starbucks achievement so far, Asma said: “becoming a Black Apron partner”, meaning she is a certified Coffee Master, responsible for championing quality coffee and brewing techniques in her store.

While working as a barista, Asma is also currently studying Pharmacology at university. She will be entering her final year this September, after which she plans to do a PhD: “I’m forever grateful to Starbucks – I’m not just ‘a partner’, I’m part of the family”.

For over 50 years, Starbucks has been a values-led company striving to create a warm and welcoming Third Place for all who visit our stores.

We work to bring our mission to life by creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture and offering equal and meaningful opportunities to all, no matter who you are or where you come from.

Our industry leading refugee hiring programme, now active in 12 markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is one of the ways we bring our people-positive aspirations to life.

Working in partnership with a number of NGO partners such as The Refugee Council, Starbucks has now placed over 750 refugees into permanent roles in the business around Europe.

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