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Starbucks Corporation, based in Seattle, Washington, U.S., has 13,000 coffee shops in more than 35 countries around the world, including countries in Latin America and the Middle East. Besides Starbucks, brands include Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia coffee. In 2006, sales were US$7.8 billion with profits of US$564 million. [1]


In June 2004 Starbucks announced that they had hired Cone (a PR firm) to assist in a strategy of blunting criticism of the company's over its standards in the sourcing of coffee beans. According to a media release Cone's role is to "develop a vision, strategy and plan that will enhance the visibility of the company's focus on the role of corporate social responsibility in coffee purchasing". [1]

Sandra Taylor, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility for Starbucks, is overseeing the project.

According to The Holmes Report earlier this year Starbucks "hosted more than 20 organizations to solicit feedback from stakeholders on its revised coffee sourcing guidelines and preferred supplier program. Participants included representatives of Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, Oxfam America, TransFair USA, US AID, and Conservation International, in a meeting facilitated by the consultancy SustainAbility." [2]

David Olsen is Senior Vice President.

Union busting

On August 6, 2007, "when opening statements are set to begin in the trial over Starbucks' anti-union operation, in some ways corporate social responsibility itself will be on trial," Daniel Gross wrote for Counterpunch. The case, before the National Labor Relations Board in New York, deals with a number of union busting activities by Starbucks, such as the firing of three baristas who were organizing a union, including Gross himself. [3]

"Socially responsible Starbucks faced an eerily similar complaint from the Labor Board less than a year and a half ago," Gross noted. "To avoid the spotlight of a public trial, Starbucks settled the entirety of the charges against it. Among other things, the company was forced to reinstate two IWW [Industrial Workers of the World] baristas it discharged for union activity. This 'progressive employer' also had to rescind policies prohibiting the wearing of union buttons and sharing written union information on company property." [4]

"Why are workers organizing at this darling of the corporate media?" Gross asked. "Starbucks workers struggle to make ends meet with a poverty wage of around $7 or $8 per hour. ... The total number of full-time hourly café employees at Starbucks is zero. ... The company boasts about its health care plan but its own data reveal that it insures a lower percentage of employees than Wal-Mart." Gross concluded, "Activists can and do make use of CSR [corporate social responsibility] by pointing out the hypocrisy behind the big brands. But that's about all CSR is good for." [5]


Starbucks spent $160,000 for lobbying in the first half of 2007. [2]

Bottled water

In 2005, Starbucks acquired a bottled water company called Ethos which markets itself as a "brand with a social mission -- helping children around the world get clean water and raising awareness of the World Water Crisis." For every $1.80 bottle of Ethos water sold, Ethos and Starbucks donate five cents to a programs to help people in Africa gain access to clean and safe water.[3] In March, 2008, Advertising Age reported that Pepsi Cola was partnering with Starbucks' Ethos Water and movie star Matt Damon, who promotes a charity called H2O Africa, to promote the water.[4] Critics of the program charge that Starbucks is exploiting a humanitarian crisis in Africa to sell more bottled water in the U.S.[5]


Key executives and 2006 pay: [6]          Options
Howard D. Schultz, Founder and Chairman    $3,570,000    $99,410,000
James L. Donald, Chief Executive Officer    $2,980,000    $2,920,000
Martin Coles, Chief Operating Officer    $1,460,000    $1,170,000
David A. Pace, Executive Vice President - Partner Resources    $935,000    $1,940,000
Michael Casey, Senior Advisor    $1,260,000    $3,580,000

Selected members of the Board of Directors: [7]

Contact details

2401 Utah Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98134
Phone: 206-447-1575
Fax: 206-447-0828


  1. Starbucks Profile, Hoovers, accessed October 2007.
  2. Starbucks lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed October 2007.
  3. Starbucks Web site Ethos Water page, accessed March 10, 2008
  4. Zmuda N, Advertising Age Pepsi Partners with Starbucks Water Brand, Also Teams With Matt Damon's Group to Push Charitable Message Behind Ethos, March 10, 2008
  5. The Truth About Ethos Web site, accessed March 10, 2008
  6. Starbucks Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed October 2007.
  7. Board of Directors, Starbucks, accessed October 2007.

External links

Other Criticism