By now it has become an annual tradition, a symbol of the LGBTQ movement and a celebration of Pride. Today, Starbucks raised its Pride Flag high above its headquarters at the Starbucks Support Center, as it has each June since 2014. At 19 by 38 feet, the rainbow banner is larger than the average Seattle apartment, and among the largest ever made to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer inclusion.
“I am so honored to be here today at the rising of our Pride Flag,” said Rossann Williams, who leads retail operations in more than 8,000 company-operated stores across the United States. “I’m so proud to work for a company where we are all seen and respected as individuals. This has been woven into the fabric of our culture for almost 50 years. That’s who we are.”
Starbucks’ support for the LGBTQ community goes back decades, offering health benefits for same-sex domestic partners of part- and full-time employees since 1998. More than 10 years ago, Starbucks established Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines to support transgender partners and added coverage of gender reassignment surgery to the company’s health benefits in 2013, and expanded benefits in 2018. The company has also spoken out in support of marriage equality, helped create safe spaces for victims of anti-LGBTQ-related crimes and harassment, and urged equal treatment for the LGBTQ community.
Starbucks partners have been powerful advocates for the LGBTQ community both inside and outside the company from the beginning. The Starbucks Pride Alliance Network, which held its first informal meeting in 1996, now includes thousands of partners in chapters around the world.
Williams underscored the company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a core part of its mission and values. “There’s never been a more important time for all of us to stand together however we self-identify. We’re all in this together,” she said.