A message from Starbucks ceo to partners and customers on civic responsibility

Kevin Johnson unveils the voter registration initiatives Starbucks is launching to ensure partners and customers have the opportunity for their voices to be heard.


The struggle for civil rights and racial equity in America requires continuous conversations and daily work. This is especially true for a business like ours that lives its mission grounded in humanity and that touches the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

Over the recent weeks, I, along with the entire leadership team, have revisited the Civil Rights Assessment of Starbucks that was conducted by Covington & Burling, under the leadership of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. That assessment, and the one-year update published in February, do a good job summarizing the actions Starbucks has taken to promote civil rights—for partners, for customers, and for the communities we serve. It shows the different ways that, for years, Starbucks has facilitated that conversation and engaged in the daily work. 

However, the potency—and the potential—of this national moment highlights that, although we have made progress, there is still so much more for us to do. We approach this as a quest to stand up for racial justice and equity, create opportunity for others, and strengthen every community we serve and in which we live.

Roz and I have met with leaders of all our business resource groups and with retail leaders to reflect on our journey together, and to share and solicit ideas about how Starbucks and Starbucks partners can continue to do more. As a company, we know the benefit of being thoughtful and intentional, listening to our partners and stakeholders and making decisions that ensure our partners feel seen, heard and valued. That is exactly what we have been doing.

The upcoming election is a reminder that we, as citizens, play an active role in our society by simply getting involved and voting. Who you vote for is a very personal decision that you make as a citizen. It is one way for you to be heard. It is how democracy works. Yet we know that barriers exist, notably in Black and Brown communities throughout the nation, that lend to systemic racism and require greater voter access and protections. I want to share how we are working, in a uniquely Starbucks way, to ensure you have the opportunity for your voice to be heard.

Starbucks is taking a major step forward this year to ensure that no partner will have to choose between working their shift or voting on or before Election Day. Through conversations between managers and nearly 200,000 partners, we’ll ensure you have the tools and the time necessary to register and cast your vote. To further enable this, partners have created a new portal with tools and resources to support your civic engagement, includinginformation onhow to register to vote, request a mail-in ballot, and volunteer to help make this year’s election safe and accessible.

Elements of this initiative include:

  • Make Voting Safe and Accessible: Through our partnership with Civic Alliance,partners can volunteer with their local election authority as (non-partisan) poll workers.
  • Support Policies that Maintain Safe Access to Voting for All: Every aspect of our communities is impacted by COVID-19, and that includes election operations.  We encourage leaders at all levels of government to work to ensure that members of their communities have a safe way to vote. Making necessary adjustments to ensure polling places and ballot drop boxes are safe and accessible for all and polling places are appropriately staffed is critical.
  • Provide Resources to Customers: In September, we will highlight National Voter Registration and help customers prepare for the election byproviding them tools through the Starbucks App to register to vote and confirm where and how to vote in their communities. Working collectively with our licensed business partners, we will ensure our millions of Starbucks customers are reminded to vote!


Voting, while essential, is just one step toward addressing many of the issues in front of us as a society. In the coming weeks and months, you can expect to hear more about the principles we are developing and commitments we will make to further racial equity, justice and opportunity. You will hear about greater transparency into diversity and inclusion data when it comes to hiring, developing and advancing partners across all roles within the company. You will hear about us partnering with civil rights groups, non-profits, governments and first responders who share our belief that every single human being—including Black, Indigenous and people of color—feels safe, welcome and respected. You’ll also hear about other ways we are further using our scale for good in the communities we serve. The bottom line being: Starbucks will not wait for change, we will make change of our own. 


As we continue to build on all that we have done over the past several years, we are focusing on three important questions for each of us to consider. These questions serve as a framework for thoughtful conversation and action:

As a citizen, what is my role and responsibility?

As a Starbucks partner, what is my role and responsibility to promote a culture of inclusion, allyship, diversity, and equity, both in our stores and throughout our extended work environment?

As a company, what is Starbucks role and responsibility to step up our commitment to promote justice, equity, opportunity and resiliency in all communities we serve? 

We will use these questions to guide an ongoing conversation, informed by the Civil Rights Audit and by suggestions from partners around the world, and by our 50-year journey as a company. I encourage all Starbucks partners to take part in this conversation. There are  simple actions we can all consider taking now, such as re-reading the audit or signing up for a To Be Welcoming course, which we developed together with Arizona State University.

We have a responsibility to promote justice and build bridges, and a mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit. To truly accomplish that requires recognition of, daily commitment to, and investment in racial justice in America. Our journey continues.

With respect and gratitude,