- Starbucks Coffee Company plans to launch an oversight committee to assist its board of directors with regulations and standards compliance and hold the company accountable on its commitments to the environment, partners and community impact, the company said Monday.
- The Environmental, Partner and Community Impact board committee aims to improve the company’s overall governance approach and will also have oversight of internal and external reporting tools and assessments, including Starbucks’ annual Global Environment and Social Impact Report, which highlights its progress across ESG initiatives.
- Starbucks said the initiative builds on pledges it made to its “most important stakeholders,” which include its employees, despite being involved in several disputes over wages and unionization rights with its workers, and allegedly violating federal labor laws.
Starbucks said Beth Ford, currently a director at the company and CEO of agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes, will serve as the independent chair of the EPCI board committee.
The coffee chain’s CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, said the “committee will keep [Starbucks] accountable and push [it] forward.”
“This new board committee is another step forward to help us deliver on our promises to our partners, community, and the environment,” said Mellody Hobson, an independent chair on Starbucks’ board of directors.
Aside from regulation compliance, the committee also seeks to improve the company’s relationships with its employees, who the company calls its “partners.” The release stated that the EPCI committee will work on initiatives to “strengthen partner engagement and revitalize partner culture.”
Despite the new initiative, the company has been embroiled in continued labor negotiations for the last few years. Most recently, unionized members of Starbucks Workers United staged their largest national strike last week, accusing the coffee giant of refusing to fairly negotiate with cafes that had voted to organize. The strike, labeled the “Red Cup Rebellion,” was organized on Red Cup Day, one of the coffee retailer’s biggest promotional events leading up to the holiday season.
Starbucks workers are seeking a “national framework of agreements,” which ensures a right to organize, high quality healthcare, expanded paid time off policies, a strong commitment to racial justice and a 5% increase in annual wages, among other things, according to a memo posted on the union’s website.
Unionized workers also told sister publication, Restaurant Dive, that the strikes were in protest of difficult working conditions during the holiday season.