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What Starbucks teaches us about corporate inclusiveness

A recent incident at Seattle, Starbucks opened the public’s eyes wide. Two black men were arrested by the Philadelphia police, for no fault of their own. In fact, they were denied access to the washroom at the coffee shop, allegedly due to racial discrimination. This prompted Starbucks to start training its employees so that it can create a culture of inclusiveness and warmth for all people irrespective of race and nationality. However, this needs to be treated as an isolated incident, because Starbucks has been very much in support of Inclusion, both among employees and customers.

Diversity Hiring at Starbucks. Picture Courtesy: Starbucks

What is Inclusiveness?

Inclusiveness is defined as “the quality of covering or dealing with a wide range of subjects”. Here when it comes to big corporations, they have tackled inclusiveness two fold – inclusiveness of customers and inclusiveness among employees.

Due to the recent incident at Starbucks, Seattle; several Starbucks across Canada and the United States of America shut down in the afternoon to teach their employees how to be inclusive in their behaviour. This includes talking to customers and making them feel welcome. This mega brand already has a very strong inclusion and diversity program in place.

Also Read: A closer look at employee satisfaction

Inclusion at Starbucks

Starbucks does recognize that to have a successful business you need to keep your employees and customers both equally happy. Customer base today is rapidly changing, and to keep up with and be in the loop of their demands, representation of customer in the

business is necessary. This brings us to the inclusion program at Starbucks. Starbucks necessarily hire people from all kinds of communities of different kinds.

Currently, Starbucks has partnered with 8 broad spectrums to include them in the firm. These include access alliance, Armed forces, Asia Pacific and China, India, LGBTQ community and Female development. The inclusion of such a wide spectrum of people from all walks of life gives the company a competitive edge and makes it a more employee friendly firm.

Disability Hiring

Starbucks does not shy away from employing people with disability. The plus point about this is that the company could understand the problems faced by them on a regular basis and rectify it for their customers. Quite a few Starbucks outlets have a menu written in braille to help customers with loss of eyesight. The Starbucks support centre in Seattle has assistive listening devices for people who are deaf. Starbucks was also awarded the Disability Employer of the year in 2014 by the US Business Leadership Network. It has also consistently received a perfect 100 score on the Disability Equality Index in 2015 and 2016.

Also Read: Starbucks is recognized as top employer for disability hiring

In a way, this also makes the customers more inclusive of a particular community. If they walk in the door to order a coffee and are forced to interact with people they are not very comfortable with, this in some form teaches them inclusion as well.

Inclusion is a concept all companies and firms, big or small should engage in. In this age of globalization, to keep constrictions or even be open to such an idea might be dangerous. What you do as a multi-billion dollar company can affect millions of your customer base.

A Deaf-shift in Starbucks-Malaysia. Source : HumanResoucesOnline


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