In anticipation of Trump’s then-impending refugee ban, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (now executive chairman) announced in January that the company would be hiring 10,000 refugees as Starbucks employees in the next few years, with 2,500 of those positions being filled by refugees in the United States.
This Wednesday, on World Refugee Day, Starbucks announced that they are moving on with the second phase of this project — hiring 2,500 refugees in their Europe locations by 2022, about 8% of their European workforce, and 1,000 refugees for their Canadian coffee shops.
To roll out this plan, Starbucks will be working closely with organizations that are in the forefront of refugee relief. Organizations like UNHCR — the UN Refugee Agency, the International Rescue Committee, and No One Left Behind. They are concentrating efforts in England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
The announcement comes at a time when the world is home to more refugees and internally displaced persons than ever before — topping 65 million displaced persons. Just last year, Europe alone saw the arrival of 360,000 refugees, most from Iraq, Syria, Guinea and Mali. Over 1,800 refugees died crossing the Mediterranean according to the United Nations.
As many European nations, and the United States, are swinging right, the weight of the refugee crisis is felt by NGO’s, civil-society, and companies aiming to make a difference. President of Starbucks for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Martin Brok, announced that the move demonstrates that “businesses like ours can use its scale to make a positive impact in people’s lives.”
This isn’t the first social-impact hiring paradigm that Starbucks have launched. It is in addition to a Veteran’s Hiring Commitment (10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018) and Opportunity Youth Hiring Commitment (have already hired 36K employees aged 16-24).
The venture has been met by some resistance, as nearly every move Starbucks makes does — yes, I’m referring to cups. But ultimately, the commitment outweighs the criticism as the corporation is strongly dedicated to living out values that the current President’s administration threatens.
In a statement to employees announcing the campaign, Schultz wrote that “the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.” In the same statement, he outlined specifics actions that Starbucks was going to take to make the workplace, community, and world, a more tolerant and equitable place, including: Support for DACA, Healthcare, and increased collaboration with Mexico — “Building Bridges, Not Walls.”