How Diverse is Starbucks’ Workforce?

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, chances are you flock to the Starbucks siren regularly (contrary to popular belief, the company’s wildly famous logo isn’t a mermaid, but a siren – a mythical creature whose sweet song can lure sailors to their doom). Seafaring references aside, Starbucks is easily the world’s largest coffee chain, with 245,000 U.S. employees serving up espressos, cappuccinos, and a plethora of not-so-secret off menu drinks

How diverse are Starbucks’ employees, and what progress has the company made in articulating and meeting its diversity and human capital goals?

  • In a 2020 letter to shareholders, then-Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced the linking of executive compensation to the company’s diversity and human capital goals. At the same time, Starbucks set a goal of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color representation of “at least 30% at all corporate levels and at least 40% at all retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.”
  • Shortly after announcing the goals, Starbucks was sued by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR). In its suit, the conservative think tank (which is also suing Nasdaq over its board diversity rule), argued that Starbucks’ policies violate state and federal civil rights laws, creating material corporate liabilities. 
  • In another diversity-related move, the company announced that Indian-born Laxman Narasimhan would take over as CEO, effective April 2023. Narasimhan joins a growing list of Indian CEOs, including Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, and Twitter’s Parag Agrawal.
  • Outside of its diversity and human capital goals, the company is also facing intense pressure from employees that want to unionize. According to Bloomberg reporting, employees at 326 Starbucks locations have filed union election petitions through July 2022. That’s by far a record, as no other company in the past two decades has seen more than 100 annual petitions.

Here’s a snapshot of Starbucks’ diversity and human capital progress, pulled from the company’s 2016-2021 self-disclosures. 

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