Starbucks commitment to gender, racial pay equity


We’re committed to 100 percent gender and racial pay equity. We’ve achieved it – and maintained it – for partners in the U.S. We’re also working toward reaching 100 percent gender pay equity for Starbucks partners globally as well.

Starbucks has achieved — and maintained — 100 percent pay equity for women and men and people of all races performing similar work in the United States. In 2018, when we first hit that milestone, we also announced that we are committed to reaching 100 percent gender pay equity for our all partners in Starbucks company-operated markets globally. A year later, on March 20, 2019, we verified that we’ve reached that goal in China and Canada — and are continuing our work around the world.

Starbucks will encourage multinational companies to achieve global gender pay equity, with the support of equal rights champion Billie Jean King and her Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and leading national women’s organizations, the National Partnership for Women & Families (National Partnership) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) – by sharing the principles and tools the company uses. 

Leveraging our experience working to achieve pay equity in the U.S., we have formulated pay equity principles – equal footing, transparency and accountability – that employers can implement to help address known, systemic barriers to global pay equity. In the U.S., we’ve also established best practices supporting each of these principles, and going forward we will establish global practices as well.

We believe it is important to encourage others to join us in recognizing the importance of this issue, not just for our partners, but for women all around the world.

Starbucks Pay Equity Principles & Best Practices

Five frequently asked questions on pay equity

Is there really a gender pay equity gap?

Unfortunately, yes, said Kimberly Churches, chief executive officer of the American Association of University Women. In the United States, women are paid an average of 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. The gender pay gap is even greater in retail, where women make an average of 70 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women face systemic issues of inequality in the workplace, despite civil rights laws and advancements in women’s economic status, and if we continue at the current rate of progress, it won’t be until 2119 for the U.S. to close the gender pay gap. Churches says a lot of companies espouse values like fairness and pay equity, but those values end up framed on a wall and not always put into practice. “Starbucks is not only talking the talk but walking the walk, and that sets an example, not only for the retail industry, but for all employers, nationally and globally,” she said.

What can we do to speed up pay equity?

“For companies, I think the solution is simple: equal pay for equal work,” said Billie Jean King, sports icon, social justice pioneer, and founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. “We don’t have to make it more complicated than that, and several companies have already proven that pay equity is achievable. For those seeking jobs, I would say be your authentic self and bring all of yourself to work every day. Progress is happening, even if it is moving more slowly than some of us would like. We need to stay focused and continue to advocate for what is right.”

How is equal pay connected to other issues of gender inequality?

There are many different factors that contribute to the systematic disempowerment of women, said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Along with pay equity, Ness said health benefits, education benefits, access to paid sick days and paid family leave are other things that can help women in their quest for equality. “Starbucks is a leader in creating a fair, equitable and family friendly workplace policies that can be modeled across the retail and really all industries,” she said. “If you look at Starbucks policies and ongoing commitment in the last few years and going forward, you see a real dedication to helping its workers achieve economic opportunity, promoting the well-being and economic security of families and ensuring women in this country are able to operate as equal members of workforce and full members of society.”

Do countries other than the U.S. experience pay inequality?

Yes, said Kathy Calvin, president and chief executive officer of the United Nations Foundation. Globally, at the current rate of progress, the pay gap between men and women will not be closed until 2234. It’s time to change the status quo when it comes to equal pay, she said. “Equal pay is critical for gender equality worldwide. As a global company, Starbucks has demonstrated its leadership by sending a strong signal that it’s time for bold action, Calvin said. “The UN Foundation looks forward to engaging with Starbucks and other leaders in the private and public sectors to change policies, expectations and the status quo to reward the contributions of women and men equally. It is past time to end discrimination against women.”

How did Starbucks create its pay equity principles and best practices, and why do they matter?

Roughly 10 years ago, Starbucks began serious work to ensure women and men  – of all ethnicities and races  –  are compensated fairly. In doing that work, the company has created tools to help approach pay in a consistent way and address the systemic issues facing women and people of all races in the United States. Lucy Helm, chief partners officer at Starbucks, said the company is now sharing its principles and the best practices to encourage other employers to join Starbucks in recognizing the importance of this issue and to help equip them with the tools to address pay equity.

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