Starbucks isn’t necessarily synonymous with helping the planet, but the Starbucks corporation is actively working to change that through a number of social responsibility initiatives. The general population is slowly becoming aware of the environmental, economic, and social challenges throughout the world. As a result, businesses are expected to keep pace by, at very least, supporting the community in which they operate. Big corporations like Starbucks take it one step further, seeking out ways to support and contribute as part of their daily operations, not as a side venture. What kinds of things has this coffee giant done to make their whole business more socially responsible? Let’s take a look at the big factors.
How Starbucks addresses social issues
While Starbucks is associated with several philanthropic social causes, the one that stands out the most is their push to acquire all coffee beans from sources that adhere to C.A.F.E. practices. Coffee and Farmer Equality (C.A.F.E) outlines ethical and responsible coffee production. Those guidelines focus on safe, humane work environments, the payment of at least minimum wage, and the use of an exclusively adult workforce. In 2008, 77% of Starbucks’ coffee came from C.A.F.E-approved sources, and the percentage continues to rise.
On the local level, Starbucks strives to promote community service and get both customers and “partners” (employees) involved in lending a hand. Aside from providing equal opportunity among its partners for all levels, Starbucks also works to create jobs that offer decent wages and a good work environment. All levels of employment include comprehensive benefits packages to help ensure health and security for families as well as employees.
Starbucks and environmental issues
As many corporations have been doing in recent years, Starbucks implements a number of strategies to reduce, reuse and recycle during normal operations. Some of these, such as encouraging customers to bring their own mugs, directly benefit Starbucks’ bottom line as well as the environment. For those who still get the disposable cup, Starbucks is working on a solution to completely eliminate non-recyclable trash from their cups.
Deforestation is one of the primary environmental concerns in the coffee industry, so Starbucks takes the initiative here too. The C.A.F.E. practices help ensure they purchase from responsible growers who do not unnecessarily destroy habitats for their crops, but Starbucks also offers grants to non-C.A.F.E. farmers who want to improve their operations. Grants are often offered in poverty-stricken areas such as Ethiopia, where environmentally and socially friendly business might not otherwise be possible.
Economic improvement with Starbucks
Obviously, economic improvement is its most noticeable in the form of good wages and benefits, but Starbucks doesn’t stop there. Grants and scholarships go to minority-run businesses, startups, and people on their way to college. The idea is that intelligent, well-educated people are the true foundation of a strong economy. By offering people a means to further their education as well as get through some of the biggest hurdles of starting a small business, Starbucks hopes to do their part in economic stimulation.
The important message in all of Starbucks’ endeavors is that you don’t have to run a non-profit business in order to be socially conscious. In many cases, you don’t even have to take away from your profits to help the world around you. Starbucks’ initiatives have improved their supply chain, reduced costs from consumables, and encouraged the advancement of the business people who make up the bulk of the Starbucks customer demographic. Don’t let the mutual benefit aspect detract from what they do – these types of socially conscious practices improve the world while improving the business itself. When it comes down to it, it’s possible for any business to do something socially conscious and profit from it too.