US think tank: Starbucks hiring African-Americans is 'discrimination'
A policy research think tank in the US has sued Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) executives and directors for the coffee chain's attempts to promote diversity, which they believe amounts to racial discrimination.
On Tuesday, in a complaint filed by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), the think tank opposed Starbucks' hiring goals for Blacks and other people of color and providing contracts to diverse suppliers and advertisers, while linking executive pay to diversity.
According to the plaintiff, who is also a Starbucks shareholder, those policies require the company to make decisions and changes based on race that "benefits minorities and violates federal and state civil rights laws."
Published on the Starbucks website, the company stated that as of October 3, 2021, the Starbucks US partner base was composed of 71.3% female and 48.2% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Their partners are 7.7% Black, 28.5% Hispanic or Latinx, 5.9% Asian, 4.8% Two or More Races, 0.6% American Indian or Alaskan Native, and 0.5% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
The complaint read that the diversity push "benefits them personally to pose as virtuous advocates of 'Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity,' even as it harms the company and its owners," it claimed. It seeks to void Starbucks' diversity policies and guidelines and have the defendants or their insurers pay damages to the company.
Scott Shepard, director of NCPPR’s Free Enterprise Project, stated that “Starbucks has set goals for the number of ‘diverse’ employees it hires, and those goals are tied to executive compensation."
"That is outright racial discrimination," he cried out.
Among the defendants are 35 current and former Starbucks executives and directors, including interim Chief Executive Howard Schultz. Starbucks has not responded on Wednesday to requests for comment.
The case is called: National Center for Public Policy Research v Schultz et al, Spokane County Superior Court, No. 22-2-02945-32.
In October 2020, Starbucks confirmed it would aim for BIPOC to hold at least 30% of US corporate jobs and 40% of US retail and manufacturing jobs by the year 2025, and tie executive pay to its diversity efforts.
Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 by Minneapolis police, many companies and firms have been boosting their focus on diversity and training. In January of the year after, Starbucks announced its objective to nearly double its annual spending with diverse vendors to $1.5 billion by 2030 and commit to devoting 15% of this year's ad budget to minority-owned and "targeted" media companies.
BIPOC groups have been at the center of discriminatory workplace measures in the US, and only following the series of murderous police brutalities against African-Americans, from George Floyd and Breonna Taylor to Ahmaud Arbery and Daunte Wright. A study in the last decade by Joe Feagin demonstrated that African-Americans are turned down more than white individuals due to their "black-sounding" names, so one may ask, how is including more BIPOC targets in hiring processes a racially-discriminatory behavior when the US itself thrives on institutional racism?