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Starbucks’ Mission: Social Responsibility and Brand Strength

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Starbucks mission is to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”(Starbucks) These principals are how Starbucks have been socially responsible in their overall corporate strategy. Their strategy is to have the highest quality product, respect and dignity towards their employees, human connection with their customers providing a stress free haven, a positive addition to neighborhoods and to leave no footprint on our environment. A great part of this strategy came from the director of retail operations and marketing, Howard Schultz, who joined Starbucks in 1982. Schultz saw firsthand his father work for an unsympathetic employer without any health benefits and wanted to change that plight for the working class family. In 1990 Starbuck’s senior executive team created their mission statement and principals which would incorporate Schultz’s principles. In their mission their final statement proclaimed “people first and profits last” with the number one guiding principal of Starbucks was to “provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.” (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell p 321).

Howard Schultz continues to be a public advocate for an increased awareness of business ethics. Starbucks strong business ethics has paid off with Ethisphere ranking them in the top 100 ethical businesses or better stated in the title, “Most ethical companies 2012 – 100 co.’s with a conscience”. (InvestorPlace Staff 2012) Starbucks has been rated in the top 100 ethical businesses for the past six years. Starbucks is unique in being able to provide a high level of benefits to its employees, considering that they provide benefits to part time employees and that their employees are not considered to be highly educated. Most businesses that have a high level of benefits for their employees are businesses with higher educated or skilled employees with a much higher pay scale than the employees of Starbucks. I think this is what makes them unique. My son worked at Target for almost two years while he was in college, the only benefits he received was free red Target sweatshirts or shirts when he worked Black Friday or was employee of the month.

Although that did save him some money in purchasing required uniform clothing, he was not given any health benefits or paid time off in the two years he worked there, even though he was a full time employee the last six months. When he asked for dental insurance because he was only covered by our health insurance after he turned twenty two years old, they told him that he worked there long enough and would be eligible for dental coverage. But a year later, he still did not receive the dental coverage that they told him he qualified for. It makes me wonder how Target was listed in the “Most ethical companies 2012 – 100 co.’s with a conscience” (InvestorPlace Staff 2012) when his two years of employment there was 2011 and 2012. If I had known what I learned in this assignment about Starbucks when my son was in college, I would have encouraged him to work at Starbucks instead of Target.

Ironically there is a Starbucks in the Target he works at. I believe that Starbucks has grown rapidly because of its ethical and socially responsible activities and by providing products and an environment that customers want. The atmosphere of Starbucks would not have the environment that customers would want if the employees were miserable and negative or if there was a large turnover. Starbucks can be likened to the local bar, but serving coffee instead of beer, even though they do not sit and talk to the server like the bartender, having a server that is a familiar face makes it so that the customer can relax and feel like they are in a secure environment where they can meet with friends or access the internet.

Also, if Starbucks did not care about the quality of their coffee, people would not go there. Not only the atmosphere in the Starbucks, but the atmosphere outside has been a major concern of Starbucks out for the since the early 1990’s, years before people started to even think about what was happening to our world. All of the qualities that Starbucks strives for; providing the highest quality product, respect and dignity towards their employees, human connection with their customers, providing a stress free haven, a positive addition to neighborhoods and to leave no footprint on our environment has contributed to its rapid growth and success.

Sources Cited:

Ferrell, O. C., J. Fraedrich, and L. Ferrell. Business ethics. Ninth. Mason, Ohio: South-Western, 2011. Print. InvestorPlace Staff. (2012, March 21). Most ethical companies 2012 – 100 co.’s with a conscience. < http://investorplace.com/2012/03/ethispheremost-ethical-companies-2012-list/> “Starbucks.” Our Starbucks Mission Statement. N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2013. <http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/mission-statement>.

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