Coffee chain Starbucks is racially biased when it comes to promotions, according to workforce data reviewed by the law firm Covington & Burling.
From 2007 through 2011, it was revealed that “minority retail partners in the United States received fewer promotions than statistically expected,” The Seattle Times reported.
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On Wednesday, Starbucks reached a voluntary agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding making progressive changes to its promotion practices. The law firm reported that Starbucks’ internal review “did not reveal systemic racial discrimination in promotions.”
Starbucks is adamant that it is aligned with civil rights. CEO Kevin Johnson wrote on its website that Starbucks’, “pursue greater inclusion, diversity and equity at Starbucks. And as we do so, we are guided by three principles: intentionality, transparency and accountability. Being intentional and transparent is the foundation of accountability, and a meaningful part of our transparency is the regular assessment of our company’s commitment to civil rights.”
Johnson also claims he does not know why Starbucks has a bad reputation with minorities and giving its employees promotions.
In 2018, two Black men were arrested after a store manager at a Philadelphia location asked them to leave after they sat down without making a purchase and they declined. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, Starbucks denied employees from representing Black Lives Matter, including masks, T-shirts, and buttons.
In its ranks, Black people represent about 4% of employees, Latino and Hispanic people make up 7%, and Asians represent 19%. The highest-ranking executive of color, following the departure of Rosalind Brewer, its former COO, is board chair Mellody Hobson, the co-CEO of Ariel Investments. It is also worth noting that Hobson is currently the only Black woman to chair an S&P 500 company.