Rob Du Boff (Forbes) | Mar. 22, 2017
Following the announcement of President Trump’s first travel ban, Starbucks has emerged as a corporate leader in the deeply politicized conversation around immigration. In late January, the company announced that, in the next five years, it would hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where the company does business. In a letter to employees, Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz noted “we will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new Administration’s actions grows with each passing day.”
Despite its design to hire refugees at Starbucks locations around the world, the new program was met with some widely reported resistance, including a boycott, among those who view the announcement as a move against hiring American workers. This is a reaction which, taking JUST Capital’s polling efforts into account, should not come as a major surprise. Our comprehensive polling found that domestic job creation is one of the most important issues for Americans when valuing corporate behavior, with more than 86% of respondents flagging this issue. It accounts for 5.6% of the total JUST Capital model.
That said, as the corporation’s past efforts show, its plan to hire refugees does not need to unfold in opposition to American job creation. One of the most common refrains among would-be boycotters is that Starbucks would be better served by hiring the men and women returning home from service in the Armed Forces. However, this has been a key component of Starbucks’s strategy dating back to 2013, when the company announced a program to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018, and it’s well on its way, having already hired 8,800 through early 2017. Similarly, Starbucks announced a program to hire 10,000 Opportunity Youth (16- to 24-year-olds who are neither employed or in school) by 2018.
Among the 17 companies in the Consumer Services sector with available U.S. employee totals, Starbucks stands head and shoulders above the others with respect to total U.S. headcount gains. It added 58,000 U.S. employees between 2011 and 2016, 72% more than the #2 domestic job creator in the industry, Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Starbucks also ranked near the top of the group in terms of the rate of U.S. job growth, increasing headcount by 52% in that period despite its large size (170,000 U.S. employees at the end of 2016). Starbucks also announced today that it would create more than 240,000 jobs globally by 2021, with 68,000 in the US alone.
As the travel ban encountered legal resistance, extensive protesting, and practical hurdles, ultimately undergoing a revision, Starbucks has expanded its already strong stance on immigration beyond its hiring practices. In February, it partnered with Ernst & Young in offering free legal advice for Starbucks employees and their families to "help navigate immigration issues and get answers in these uncertain times." Initiatives like this fit into JUST Capital’s Worker Treatment Driver, where Starbucks ranked #6 out of 29 industry peers. As the country navigates the policy changes that will inevitably unfold in the coming years, JUST will continue to track corporations like Starbucks, whose efforts in the areas of Domestic Job Creation and Worker Treatment consistently position the corporation as a leader in its industry.
JUST Capital is an unaligned non-profit that ranks companies against Americans' top priorities. JUST’s second annual ranking on corporate behavior is slated to be published in October.