Shareholders Ask Starbucks to Protect Employees from Viewpoint Discrimination — Company Says Vote NO!

Washington, D.C./Seattle, WA – Today, shareholder activists from the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) will present a proposal at Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting (Proposal #5) that would require the Company to conduct an audit to determine the extent to which its “Partner Networks” (what are usually called Employee Resource Groups at most companies) are discriminatory, and in particular, discriminatory against employees arbitrarily deemed “non-diverse.”

In its supporting statement, FEP’s proposal states “Starbucks has spent significant resources and attention on implementing DEI policies into workplace practices and hiring. These efforts include the Company’s ‘Partner Networks,’ which ‘are partner-led groups that bring together people with shared identities and experiences, along with allies, to promote a culture of inclusion…'”

“All agree that every employee should feel welcome, but there is much disagreement about how to achieve that goal. Although employee ‘Partner Networks’ theoretically sound like a good way to achieve the goal of ‘inclusivity,’ all they really achieve is exclusivity.”

“Membership in such groups is often based on surface-level characteristics such as race, sex, and sexual orientation. In fact, Starbucks boasts a dozen partner networks, with more than half being grounded in surface-level characteristics such as the Black Partner Network to focus on the ‘African diaspora,’ the Hora del Cafe to focus on the ‘Latinx culture’ and the Pride Network to ‘cultivate an equitable, dynamic and supportive environment for LGBTQIA2+ partners.'”

“While Starbucks also has Networks that focus on the Armed Services, the disabled, and sustainability, it only has one group that actually focuses on performance: the ‘Next at Starbucks’ group, to ‘support and empower the next generation of Starbucks leadership.'”

“Starbucks has no Partner Networks, though, for any ‘non-diverse’ groups. This is particularly a concern given the many programs Starbucks has established to facilitate disparate treatment in hiring and promotion against the ‘non-diverse.’ Under equity theory itself, this gap indicates the existence of systemic discrimination against the non-diverse at Starbucks.”

“Accordingly, we request the report consider the rights and interests of all employees and groups to ensure that the Company does not alienate individuals who lack certain ‘diverse’ qualities in the name of ‘inclusivity,'” concluded the statement.

More information about this proposal, as well as other key votes, can be found in FEP’s mobile and web app, Proxy Navigator.


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