Our Third Civil Rights Assessment

In a letter to partners (employees), ceo Kevin Johnson outlines highlights from the company’s third Civil Rights Assessment conducted by Covington & Burling LLP under leadership of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.


We continue to pursue greater inclusion, diversity and equity at Starbucks. And as we do so, we are guided by three principles: intentionality, transparency and accountability. Being intentional and transparent is the foundation of accountability, and a meaningful part of our transparency is the regular assessment of our company's commitment to civil rights. It is an objective evaluation that 1) provides a factual and honest review of our journey in inclusion, diversity and equity, and 2) helps us track progress over time to drive truly lasting change. Each year since 2019, we have asked for and published this objective assessment, allowing us to reflect on our progress and, more importantly, focus on areas we can improve and advance this agenda.

Other companies may hesitate to allow an outside evaluator to dig into its practices, and then to make their findings public. But we work for a different kind of company. We act with courage, we challenge the status quo and we find new ways to grow—not just as a company but as partners. I’m proud that we undergo this assessment. All companies should.

This year’s Civil Rights Assessment (CRA)—once again, under the leadership of former United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burling LLP—will be published tomorrow and made easily available to all partners, customers and stakeholders. And while I encourage all partners to read the entire assessment, I want to share with you, in advance of its publication, a look at some of the key areas of progress and opportunity identified this year:  

  • Fostering and Advancing an Internal Culture of Inclusion and Equity. Mr. Holder and his team recognized the goals and commitments we made in October of last year (which included connecting executives’ compensation to inclusion and diversity goals within their teams, establishing an Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council to provide internal governance, and launching a mentorship program connecting BIPOC partners to senior leaders). Additionally, this assessment calls out several other positives; for example, more intentional listening to our partners like our Courageous Conversations series which has tackled tough topics including racial inequity, our weekly all partner forums throughout COVID-19 and deeper engagement with partner networks.  
  • Ensuring the Third Place is Welcoming to All. The assessment recognizes our continuing efforts to sustain the third place including innovative training, updates to our third place policy and inclusive store design to make our stores more welcoming and accessible.  
  • Being a Positive Force for Equity in the Communities We Serve. The assessment underscores our continued efforts to show up in a positive way for the communities we serve, highlighting our $100 million investment in a Community Resilience Fund, our Neighborhood Grants focusing on racial equity and local law enforcement listening sessions that examine our stores’ role in promoting safe and equitable communities.
  • Leadership Outside of Our Business. Covington & Burling noted that Starbucks work to promote inclusion and diversity includes sharing with and learning from others. This includes last year’s effort to help partners and customers register to vote and make their voices heard in the election. That work acknowledged that systemic barriers to voting exist in our country, particularly in Black and Brown communities, and supported reducing barriers to safe and accessible voting for all through additional partner support and benefits based on our belief that no partner should have to choose between working their shift and voting. Starbucks also provided open-sourced voter education and resources for partners and customers alike. The assessment also notes how we’ve openly shared all elements of our To Be Welcoming curriculum with other organizations.  

As it has in the past, the assessment provides an honest review of our journey and offers expert recommendations for how we can create an even more inclusive, diverse and equitable workplace. We’re proud of the progress we continue to make, and we know that there will be setbacks. We are, however, fully committed to lasting change. Some of the opportunities identified in this year’s assessment for Starbucks include: 

  • Create a formal roadmap to expand our mentorship program beyond directors.
  • Create continuing accountability around how we ensure equal access to advancement and promotion opportunities.  
  • Bolstering our goals for our supplier diversity program and investing in additional aspects of the program to eliminate barriers for suppliers.

You will see the CRA outlines an agreement we recently reached with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Through a voluntary process earlier this year, Starbucks and the EEOC resolved allegations (based on workforce data from 2007 through 2011)that we had not been providing equal access to promotion opportunities for store partners based on their race and national origin. While we do not know what prompted the EEOC allegations and our analysis of this data did not reveal systemic discrimination in promotions, we know we can improve transparency around promotion opportunities. The agreement is not only the right thing for partners, it has also led us to focus more resources on structural changes necessary to support partners’ career progressions and ensure that every partner has the opportunity to learn about promotion opportunities.  

What does this mean for you? You will begin to see improvements to make more partners aware of and able to apply for open positions and to enhance accountability for leaders. Leaders will also be better equipped to help their partners navigate these opportunities. We now have tools and technology to help non-retail leaders track their team’s progress towards BIPOC representation goals and to give retail partner—from baristas through managers—seamless visibility to promotion opportunities. During your upcoming performance and development conversations with your manager, each of you will have an opportunity to learn about these new systems in place, while at the same time, having space for meaningful and supportive career conversations. The tools and technology are only as good as the behaviors of a truly inclusive culture.

I want to be very clear: racism and discrimination have no place at Starbucks. Not with customers. Not with partners. If you ever have a concern regarding racism or discrimination, we have several resources in place to support you, including your PRO partner, PRSC, or our Ethics & Compliance team. You can also reach out to our I&D team if you have any questions.  

Inclusion is at the very core of what we do at Starbucks. We inspire and nurture the human spirit. We create places of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. As we continue to have these open conversations about diversity and equity, we discover time and again that inclusion lines up perfectly with our Mission and Values.  

With respect and gratitude, 


Starbucks Civil Rights Assessments

Read More