Starbucks role and responsibility in advancing racial and social equity

In a letter to partners (employees), Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson outlines further steps the company will take to advance inclusion, diversity and equity on behalf of its partners and the communities it serves.


As we continue together on our journey to advance racial and social equity on behalf of our partners and the communities we serve, I keep coming back to three principles: intention, transparency and accountability.

That is, as we consider the role and responsibility of Starbucks, as a company, to lead by example in areas of inclusion, diversity, and equity, we will: 1) be intentional about the actions we take and how they line up with our Mission and Values, 2) commit to transparency with all stakeholders about our thinking and our goals, and 3) hold ourselves accountable.

Those are the same three principles we outlined for ourselves over two years ago in Philadelphia that led to the closing of our 8,000 company-owned stores for a day of anti-bias training. Those principles further led to our partnership with Arizona State University in developing our To Be Welcoming curriculum, to our civil rights assessment led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and a bold decision to make that assessment public, and our success in achieving gender and race pay equity in the U.S.

In the partner letter I sent at the end of August, I outlined critical questions I believe each of us ought to be asking ourselves in this pivotal societal moment. 

We are well underway with efforts to help answer the question about our roles and responsibilities as individuals, with action to reduce barriers to voting for those who wear the green apron as well as for our customers.

Today, I’m pleased to tell you about several new actions Starbucks will be taking as we continue our journey and step up our efforts.

As we discuss inclusion, diversity and equity, we discover time and again that these topics are foundational to our Starbucks Mission and Values. Of course, they are. The very concept of the Third Place embodies inclusion – creating a place of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. It’s what we mean when we talk about connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

I believe our Mission and Values are what have made, and continue to make, Starbucks an enduring company. We share a purpose that transcends the pursuit of profit and that will carry us forward as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Starbucks next year. 

Advancing Starbucks Culture of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

We know that a more inclusive environment will create a flywheel that leads to greater diversity, and thereby greater equity and opportunity for all. Greater diversity enables us to better fulfill our mission. We have already taken action on many of the recommendations that resulted from our Civil Rights Assessment but, while we have made progress in many areas, we know that there is still more work to be done.

Today, we are outlining additional actions we will take on our journey. Each of the actions lines up with our Mission and Values, and so we know they are not just fleeting initiatives, but rather woven into the fabric of Starbucks. And I ask you to be engaged in this journey, knowing this requires long-term thinking that is backed up by the daily, sustained work that we are committed to do.  As a part of these actions:

  • We will be intentional in cultivating a culture of inclusion and diversity, with a focus on partner retention and development. We will launch a mentorship program connecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) partners to senior leaders and invest in strategic partnerships with professional organizations that focus on the development of BIPOC talent. We will offer foundational inclusion and diversity learning modules and embed anti-bias content into all hiring, development and performance assessment toolkits. We will also enhance our tools for tracking internal talent advancement and opportunity. Importantly, we will continue to work closely with our Partner Networks to better understand and support the experiences of our BIPOC partners and further develop them as leaders.
  • We will be transparent in our approach to inclusion and diversity goal setting and progress through annual reporting. We are publicly sharing the data reflecting the diversity of our current workforce. We are also setting, and will be tracking, annual inclusion and diversity goals of achieving BIPOC representation of at least 30 percent at all corporate levels and at least 40 percent of all retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable at the highest levels of the organization, connecting the building of inclusive and diverse teams to our executive compensation program, effective immediately. Further, all vp+ partners will be required to complete our two-hour anti-bias training and the foundational and racial bias courses from the To Be Welcoming Curriculum. We will establish an Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council to provide internal governance to integrate inclusion and diversity throughout the organization. We will also join other peer organizations in the Board Diversity Action Alliance as we are committed to racially and ethnically diverse representation on corporate boards of directors.

Supporting the resilience of the communities we serve

When we talk about using Starbucks “scale for good,” we mean that every business has the potential to promote equity in the community it serves; and since Starbucks serves more than 30,000 communities, we have the potential – and yes, responsibility – to promote equity on a larger scale than some other businesses.

  • We will grow our community partnerships for hiring, training and supervising outreach workers who will support our stores by engaging with individuals in crisis with the goal of reducing strain on law enforcement agencies. This kind of outreach further ensures that Starbucks locations are welcoming places for all.
  • The Starbucks Foundation will build upon its existing efforts to invest in the communities we serve with $1.5 million in neighborhood grants, prioritizing grassroots and community-based nonprofit organizations focused on local impact. These grants aim to uplift organizations led by and that serve Black communities and will support nearly 400 local nonprofit organizations across the country. The Foundation will also invest $5 million to launch a two-year initiative focused on supporting nonprofits that serve BIPOC youth.

I continue to be impressed and awed by the dedication and resilience of all partners who wear the green apron, especially now, when the communities we serve need the comfort, familiarity and safety that Starbucks provides. Thank you for all you do.

We have a responsibility to build bridges and create environments where all are welcome. Our journey continues as we are guided by intentionality, transparency and accountability.

With respect and gratitude,