7-1 Blog: Green for Profit or Green for the Environment?

by Tahor Graves
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Starbucks Corporate Social Responsibility

How do you believe the company conducts business in a socially responsible way? Support your answer by discussing specific examples.

Starbucks currently owns and operates more than 28,000 stores in more than 75 countries. Their commitment to creating a positive global social impact is enforced in their mission statement. They focus on three key elements:

  1. Leading in sustainability
  2. Creating meaningful opportunities
  3. Strengthening communities

According to Starbucks (2021), they are committed to offering “high-quality, ethically purchased and responsibly produced products, investing in paths to opportunity through education, training and employment, minimizing environmental footprint and inspiring others to do the same, and offering Starbucks as a place for public conversation and elevating civic engagement through service.” They strive to inspire the world to create positive change. To be innovators, leaders and contributors to an inclusive society and a healthy environment so that everyone can thrive.

Specific examples that include how Starbucks contributes to CSR includes:

Halve its carbon emissions, waste output and water impact by 2030

Starbucks is aiming to reduce their carbon emissions by 2030 by 50%. They also want to reduce their waste to landfills and manufacturing, which will also help conserve 50% of the water currently being used for coffee and other operations. This will also help protect the sustainability of the company and the supply chain. Achieving this will help farmers be more productive and contribute to the planets longevity. They have publicly mentioned this, but are accelerating this program as of 2021. More information about this program can be found here.

Creating straw-less lids

Part of reducing Starbucks carbon footprint, they created straw-less lids. In September of 2020, Starbucks officially ditched plastic straws. All of Starbucks iced drinks are now served with a straw-less lid.

Starbucks Debuts STRAWLESS 'Sippy' Lids For Cold Drinks - YouTube

Has the company ever been involved in any incidents in which they were accused of not conducting business in an ethical or socially responsible manner? If so, briefly discuss the legal issues related to the incident(s).

Starbucks has in the past accused of poor conducting of business. This came to light after an incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, where two African American men were wrongfully removed from the premise for waiting for a business associate. Starbuck’s CEO Kevin Johnson had answered to the press by saying the incident was the company’s fault for poor training practices. The next month, Starbucks shut down 8,000 stores to conduct an anti-bias training for a day. They realized they have hundreds of thousands of employees, and needed more concrete and extensive training if they want to maintain their integrity. Starbucks began setting company diversity goals, one being increasing the number of diverse employees in the company. You can read the letter from the CEO, Kevin Johnson, regarding racial and social equity at Starbucks here.

Do you feel the company is “green” for profit or “green” for the environment?

I believe Starbucks is “green” for the environment. Especially being that they are one of the worlds largest buyers of coffee and owners of coffee farms. According to Starbuck’s website, they want to make coffee “the world’s first sustainable product to improve the lives of at least 1 million people in coffee communities around the world” (Starbucks, 2021). Starbucks shares their research and resources with the Farmer Support Centers, who produce coffee in countries all around the world. Through their Global Farmer Fund program, they are investing millions into allowing farmers to renovate their farms for sustainable practices. According to Starbucks (2021), they have invested over 100 million in supporting the coffee communities. Through collaborative farming programs, Starbucks is shaping global coffee farming practices, creating support centers, issuing farmer loans, and working on carbon footprint projects. While Starbucks is a publicly traded company and should care for the profits, I think they realize that they are a company that’s not going out of business anytime soon. Rather, what I mean by this is that the real interest for the shareholders is in the sustatinibitly of the company. Starbucks is investing in their future, rather immediate growth.

References:

Hendricks, D. (2021). How to Take Your Company Global in 7 Steps | Startup Grind. Startup Grind. https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/how-to-take-your-company-global-in-7-steps/

Starbucks. (2021). Responsibly Grown and Fair Trade Coffee. Starbucks Coffee Company. https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/sourcing/coffee

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