Starbucks Loves Refugees & Veterans


By: Renee Hecht

“Starbucks to hire 10,000 refugees”

It’s a headline we’ve all seen a thousand times by now. On January 30th Howard Schultz vowed to hire 10,000 refugees over the course of the next 5 years. This was a promise made in direct opposition to the executive order signed by Trump which puts either bans or limits on refugees from 7 predominantly Muslim countries.

The knee-jerk reaction to this announcement was a call for a massive Starbucks boycott.  (Kind of like when Starbucks chose to use plain red cups during the holidays.) The voices of a thousand agitated Facebook-users ushered in a very important question regarding the company and its promise.

“If Starbucks cares about America, why don’t they hire 10,000 veterans?”

The Black Rifle Coffee Company – a veteran owned business -vowed to do just that, appealing to those people who were outraged by the news that Starbucks opposed Trump’s anti-immigration policies. The company has gathered significant support, though, as of yet, they have not given a deadline for their hiring plan.
Of course, this would be significantly more impressive if Starbucks hadn’t already vowed to hire 10,000 veterans back in 2013. They are currently at a benchmark of about 8,800 veterans and military spouses, and plan to reach their goal by 2018.

Starbucks has also dedicated more than 30 stores as “Military Family Stores”, each of which works with a non-profit organization to provide services for veterans. Not to mention that at least 15 regional districts in the US take part in “Adopt a Unit”, a service which sends coffee to military units overseas. There is an entire subsection on the Starbucks website where you can discover their other contributions towards veterans and military families. Here is a link.

Now, that’s all well and good, but what about those citizens who aren’t in the military? For starters, Starbucks employees can continue to rely on healthcare benefits- in spite of the fact that the Affordable Care Act is on its way out. Starbucks also continues to offer its partners educational benefits, such as the ability to acquire a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University, with tuition reimbursement.

Howard Schultz is willing to stand up for equality and for worker’s rights even in the face of so much much contoversy, which makes it easier for partners like me to approach our jobs with a positive, welcoming attitude. One of our core values at Starbucks is to “create a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome”, and this refugee-hiring goal is merely one step toward living up to that value.

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