An annual independent review of Starbucks compiled by former Attorney General Eric Holder praised the coffee chain's commitment to diversity amid the coronavirus pandemic and an election year with widespread protests against racial discrimination.
At the same time, the coffee chain also disclosed it has settled with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to "resolve allegations, dating back to 2007, that Starbucks’ promotion practices discriminated against some of its store partners on the basis of race and national origin" as detailed in the report.
Reviewing the past year, the company gave employees the opportunity "to feel seen and heard and to address partner needs," according to the company's 2021 Civil Rights Assessment.
Holder pointed to numerous company efforts from organization virtual forums allocated for employees to "share their perspectives and feelings regarding racial injustice," updating the dress code to allow for the expression of the Black Lives Matter movement and creating a mentorship program focused on connecting Black, Indigenous and people of color to senior leaders in the company.
CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement Wednesday that the report is meant to assess the company's "commitment to civil rights."
In 2019, the report was used to understand and mitigate implicit bias in its stores. Its 2020 report dove deeper into its corporate strategies following protests, some peaceful and others violent, condemning police brutality following the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody.
"Following difficult and traumatic events that consumed the nation — all of which uniquely affected persons of color — Starbucks created new digital forums to better listen to and understand the needs of Starbucks’ partners," the report read.
After Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in Georgia in February 2020, Starbucks organized a virtual forum for partners to support one another and share their perspectives. This translated into a "series of courageous conversations" which were created to offer care and support following tragic events from the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor as well as the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.
Starbucks, prompted by requests from employees, updated its dress code in June to allow partners across the country to show support for Black Lives Matter by wearing BLM T-shirts, pins, facemasks and hats.
Holder also said the company is continuing its commitment to have employees who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color represent at least 30% of its corporate workforce at all levels and for people of color represent at least 40% of retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.
Over the past year, the company began publicly reporting more detailed workforce diversity data as part of its commitment to be more transparent and tied executive compensation with the company's success in achieving its diversity goals. That decision was a way for holding senior leaders individually accountable to drive inclusion and sustainability at Starbucks, according to the report.
"I want to be very clear: racism and discrimination have no place at Starbucks. Not with customers. Not with partners," Johnson said.
The report recommends the company publishes periodic updates to measure progress and continuing to survey employee sentiment regarding equity, diversity and inclusion to help guide the company moving forward.