- Starbucks is planning a round of layoffs beginning with the executive level of its Seattle headquarters, The Seattle Times reported.
- The news was delivered to employees via an internal memo penned by CEO Kevin Johnson and obtained by The Seattle Times. Sent under the subject line, "Building our future together," Johnson stated that period between next week and mid-November, "there will be leadership shifts and non-retail partner impacts as we evolve the direction of teams across the organization in size, scope and goals." A separate portion of the memo cited by Bloomberg told employees that, in order to boost innovation, "we are going to make some significant changes to how we work as leaders in all areas of the company."
- A Starbucks spokesperson told The Seattle Times that the reshuffling will include job losses and other shifts, but that a total number had not been determined. The spokesperson added that the company will begin the process by evaluating roles at the vice president and senior vice president levels. The Seattle Times said the reviews are not expected to affect employees in the company's stores.
It's perhaps the first overhaul of Starbucks' corporate leadership since Johnson took over for former longtime CEO Howard Schultz in 2017. Starbucks has announced a slew of personnel-related updates in the past year, including new sick-time benefits, expansion of parental leave and a pilot program allowing employees to split work hours between its stores and volunteer organizations. Due to the impact that executive leadership has on cultural initiatives, it's likely that Starbucks' organizational re-structuring will be closely watched by members of the HR industry moving forward.
One of the media-defining events for the coffee chain this year included an incident at one of its Philadelphia stores in which a store manager called the police on two black men in her store who were later arrested. In the ensuing fallout, the company decided to close all of its stores for a day of racial bias training.
The information that has been made publicly known about that day of training details what may be one of the more significant HR industry events of 2018. Starbucks said it moved 23,000 tablets pre-downloaded with e-learning content in preparation for the training, and a preview offered by the company revealed collaborations with leaders from the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, among others. Schultz reportedly asked racial justice leaders to weigh in on the training's message, methods and overall goals, with the result being a report that was released to the public. The training did not satisfy all employees, however, including some Canadian workers who felt the U.S.-based curriculum did not address the country's experiences with indigenous people.
But many considered Starbucks' response to the controversy an example of "true leadership" — particularly relevant as more companies face serious examination over their diversity and inclusion policies for both employees and customers.