Starbucks has a long history of developing and implementing programs and more specific initiatives centered on fulfilling its corporate social responsibility. The company invests in different causes. These range from compliance with legal and ethical standards to supplier welfare improvement and environmental conservation efforts. The CSR strategy of Starbucks exemplifies one of the most well-rounded and well-implemented attempts of a multinational corporation to promote the interests of its various stakeholders while also improving the different facets of its operations and its entire value chain.
Understanding and Appreciating the CSR Strategy of Starbucks: How the Company Empowers Its Stakeholders and Also Benefits From Doing So
The company established its first environmental mission statement in 1992. It also rolled out various civic programs including The Starbucks Foundation in 1997 and a partnership with Conservation International in 1998. It publicized its first corporate social responsibility report in 2002 with a stated aspiration of becoming recognized for its commitment to various causes as much as it is recognized for the quality of its coffee.
A further testament to the commitment of Starbucks toward its corporate social responsibility is the appointment of key people in specialized executive positions to oversee its various CSR initiatives and implement its overall CSR strategy. These include Michael Kobori who serves as the Chief Sustainability Officer and Michelle Burns who serves as the Executive Vice President of Global Coffee, Social Impact, and Sustainability.
Noteworthy CSR Programs
The entire CSR strategy of Starbucks has three focus areas. These are environmental, social, and governance or people, planet, and governance. Developments in these areas are detailed in its annual Global Environmental and Social Impact Report. Below are the details:
• Environmental: The environmental initiatives of Starbucks are grounded on the principles of sustainability and ethical sourcing. The company aims to become resource positive. This means reducing its carbon, waste, and water footprint, and sourcing ingredients and other raw materials through sustainable means.
• Social: Specific initiatives aimed at advancing various social causes revolve around opportunity creation, social inclusion, and community empowerment. The company considers itself as people positive and believes that its success should be shared through its commitment to elevate the experience of all of its relevant stakeholders.
• Governance: The company also has initiatives to promote financial integrity, partner and stakeholder confidence, and sustainable performance. These are made possible through a corporate governance principle based on ethical leadership and business practices. This principle is integrated with its overall strategic business plan.
Remember that the company has various initiatives or specific programs designed in accordance with the focus areas of its CSR strategy. Some of these programs even fulfill the principles of two to three focus areas. The following are the notable CSR programs of Starbucks:
• Grounds For Your Garden: Starbucks introduced the first Grounds For Your Garden program in 1995 in the United States and Canada. It centers on the sustainable disposal of used coffee grounds by offering them to customers for free. These coffee grounds can be used as compost for their gardens. The program specifically aims to lessen the organic wastes that Starbucks stores produce.
• The Starbucks Foundation: It was in 1997 when the company established The Starbucks Foundation as its main charitable arm. The stated mission is to strengthen humanity by transforming lives across the world. It focuses on enabling community resiliency and prosperity. The foundation has been providing grants to local nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and farmers.
• Coffee and Farmer Equity: The company introduced the Coffee and Farmer Equity or CAFE Practices in 2004 together with Conservation International. The goal of this program is to promote ethical sourcing of coffee beans. It sets standards for coffee quality, social responsibility, and environmental leadership. Coffee farmers who meet or exceed these standards are given support and incentives.
• Community Store Program: A new store model was introduced in 2011 in Harlem in New York and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. Starbucks established more of these stores in various underserved communities. A particular store partners with a local nonprofit and donates a portion of its sales to support local socioeconomic development, youth empowerment, and environmental stewardship programs.
• Greener Store Framework: Starbucks has also developed and implemented the Greener Store Framework with assistance from SCS Global Services and World Wildlife Fund. It provides standards and guidelines for designing, building, and operating sustainable stores. The framework covers aspects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, waste reduction, and green building materials.
• FoodShare Food Donation: The company partnered with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America in 2016 to create the FoodShare program which aims to distribute unsold food to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. The program has expanded outside the United States. It has helped the company provide millions of nourishing meals in a year while lessening food wastage.
Purpose of the CSR Strategy
The CSR strategy of Starbucks exemplifies the benefits of corporate social responsibility. Its specific CSR programs or initiatives have benefits not only its stakeholders but the different facets of its value chain. This is aligned with the socioeconomic model of social responsibility that argues that corporations can do well by doing good.
For example, its Ground For Your Garden and FoodShare programs have helped the company reduce its environmental footprint by finding proper use for food products and byproducts that usually end up in landfills.
The specific programs related to its suppliers have demonstrated how CSR can be used as a source of organizational strength and competitive advantage. Its CAFE practices have helped Starbucks secure its supply chain and maintain an equitable bargaining power with its suppliers while its Green Store Framework provides various cost benefits.
It is also important to note that its CSR programs reinforce its marketing mix and specific promotion strategy by bolstering its brand image. There are customers and investors who prefer companies with a strong CSR strategy.
All of its governance initiatives also help in reinforcing its corporate image to attract customers and investors further. The same corporate governance practices demonstrate an intentional approach to legal and ethical compliance. These have allowed the company to reduce risks from possible regulatory and negative publicity issues.