Starbucks is partnering with 25 employers to close the U.S. gender pay gap

Employers come together and commit to following a set of principles for pay equity in the U.S.

On Equal Pay Day, April 2, Starbucks and 25 other U.S. employers in the Employers for Pay Equity consortium have joined to agree to a shared set of Pay Equity Principles to help eliminate the gender pay gap.

“The Pay Equity Principles we signed onto today – Equal Footing, Transparency and Accountability – were created not only to help us but also other organizations and businesses seeking to eradicate the pay gap,” said Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer of Starbucks. “While the signatories to the Pay Equity Principles represent different industries facing different challenges to achieving pay equity, we all agree that by working together we can accelerate the elimination of the national pay gap.”

In 2018, Starbucks announced it had reached 100 percent pay equity for men and women and people of all races performing similar work in the U.S.  Last month, at Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders, the company announced it had maintained it for another year and verified that Starbucks in China and Canada, two of the largest global markets for company-owned stores, had also fulfilled the company’s commitment to achieve and maintain gender equity in pay.

“Strong leaders lead by example and Starbucks is one of the strongest leaders in the fight for equality and inclusion,” said Billie Jean King, whose Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative has signed on as a supporter of the letter, along with other leaders in this space including the National Partnership for Women & Families, American Association of University Women and the American Civil Liberties Union. “It is very fashionable today to be ‘in the discussion’ on equal pay.  But it is entirely a different situation and a more positive step to be a leader in the space, as opposed to being a passive listener. Actions need to match the words.”

The Employers for Pay Equity is committed to identifying and promoting best practices to ensure fundamental fairness for all workers with U.S. employers. Many of these companies signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge in 2016, committing to conduct annual company-wide gender pay analysis; review hiring and promotion processes; to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers; and embed equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.

“It’s really about sharing information. We want to have a deep conversation about this work,” said Elisa Van Dam, who works with Employers for Pay Equity as liaison with Simmons School of Business at Simmons University in Boston.

She said that committing to Pay Equity Principles raises the visibility of the work going on – and she hopes it will inspire other companies to join the consortium.

“The companies are where rubber meets the road,” she said. “Legislation is important in bringing attention to the issue, but companies do the work. This shows internally and externally that they are committed and putting the resources in.”

Read on to see the full draft of the letter. 

While many agree on the idea of equal pay, the hard work is putting it into practice.

For over fifty years in the United States, our laws have mandated Equal Pay. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and civil rights laws have helped narrow the wage gap over time, there is still more work to do. Women in the U.S. are still paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men in the workforce; the disparity for women of color is even larger. At the current rate of progress, the wage gap will not be closed until 2106. Addressing the pay disparities that remain and the systemic forces that perpetuate them is critical for everyone.

We, the undersigned employers, believe that business can play a critical role in eliminating the national gender pay gap. Our organizations employ millions of Americans across multiple industries. Together, we have leveraged our collective experiences to create a shared set of Principles to Pay Equity. While every business has a different approach, our goal is to make the work behind eliminating the pay gap actionable and accessible to companies of all sizes.

Principles to Pay Equity

1. Equal Footing: From the start and throughout a career. One of the most important things to get right is starting pay, which greatly impacts pay as an employee advances throughout their career. Compensation should be based on a candidate or employee’s role, skills, abilities and experience, not their gender, race or any other protected classes.

2. Transparency. Achieving and sustaining pay equity is an imperfect process. We commit to sharing insights and learnings from our work to achieve pay equity. All employees are encouraged to openly ask and discuss wages without fear of retaliation.

3. Accountability. We will hold ourselves accountable through practices such as conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations, reviewing hiring and promotion processes to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers, and embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.

We invite others to join us in recognizing the importance of this issue. Visit to see how we are bringing these principles to life.


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‘By us and for us:’ New Starbucks merch inspired by LGBTQ+ community