During the Q&A section of the annual Starbucks shareholder meeting, incoming CEO Kevin Johnson got an important question from Adam, a longtime Starbucks worker from Seattle and the father of a young child, and Kristen, a barista & new mom from Ohio, about the company’s inequitable parental leave policy. Johnson said the current policy was a "hard choice," and that it only represented a "moment in time." He suggested the company would consider improvements.
But he also indicated that he’d only make changes if he heard more feedback.
It’s not often you hear what’s basically a call to action from the CEO, right?
And here's why that happened. Because the day before, two baristas delivered 80,000+ petitions to corporate headquarters, met with the VP of Global Benefits, and got incredible attention from local & national media, including the Seattle Times, the Huffington Post, all 4 local TV stations, and more.
The (partial) list below speaks for itself. It doesn’t take a CEO to see that this stuff makes a difference — or to pitch in and support the work.
Seattle Times, 3/21/2017
“I think about our kids — it’s kind of asking babies to shoulder their parents’ lot in life. Because your parent makes a lower wage, even though it’s the same corporation, you’d get less time with your parents when you’re at your most fragile.”
Huffington Post, 3/23/2017
“There is not a difference between [a corporate worker’s] baby and the barista’s baby. The only difference is that she sits upstairs in a building and the barista works down below in an apron. The time for this kind of class discrimination is over.”
Guest Editorial: Starbucks' New Paid Family Leave Policy Isn't as Groundbreaking as You May Have Heard
The Stranger, 3/16/2017
Starbucks recently made headlines with a new policy that provides up to 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave, and an additional 6 weeks for birth recovery. But when you read past the headlines, it turns out that expecting parents who work in the stores—baristas like me—get much less, or nothing at all. New birth moms get only 6 weeks paid leave—and only when they qualify for a base number of hours. New dads and adoptive parents don’t get even a single day.
The petition was organized by a labor group called Working Washington, which played a significant role in the fight for Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, and a national paid parental leave advocacy group, PL+US. Two Starbucks baristas delivered the petition to the company yesterday and met with an executive who oversees benefits. Starbucks relayed to the Times that its significantly more generous leave policies for corporate employees are “an attempt to be more competitive in its efforts to seek and retain talent.”
KOMO TV, 3/21/2017
"I think I'm hearing from other baristas this is long overdue, and we appreciate that they tried to make a step forward, but that the step was not big enough for the retail partners," said Svabenik.
KIRO TV, 3/21/2017
The two baristas, Kristen, from Ohio, and Jessica, from Gig Harbor, delivered 80,000 petition signatures to Starbucks corporate headquarters Tuesday and asked to meet with Starbucks executives to discuss family leave policy.
KING TV, 3/21/2017
Baristas Jessica Svabinek and Kristen Picciolo met with Starbucks Vice President of Global Benefits Tuesday, who agreed to hear the women's concerns.
Picciolo brought her infant son, Adam.
"They're so new to the world," she said, holding her baby before heading into the meeting. "They just want their mom or their dads. They need their parents."
KIRO Radio, 3/21/2017
Do babies care if their moms brew coffee or work at a desk? Should Starbucks care?
"We appreciate that they tried to make a step forward, but the step was not big enough for the retail partners," said Jessica Svabenik, a barista from Gig Harbor who works in Silverdale.