Starbucks defiantly hiring 2,500 refugees across Europe despite public backlash

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Nicola Rachel Colyer
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When Donald Trump’s first move as the President of the United States was to implement a travel ban – preventing refugees and immigrants from seven ‘majority-Muslim countries’ including Syria, Somalia, and Iran from entering the country – Starbucks quickly responded by announcing plans to hire 10,000 refugees around the world over the next five years.

In an open letter to its employees, Howard Schultz – then CEO, now Executive Chairman – wrote:

“I write to you today with deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise. 

“I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack…

“We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world. This is why we are doubling down on this commitment... to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.

“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years...”

Despite this announcement causing a slump in sales and brand sentiment, Starbucks moved ahead with the plans, starting in the USA, and this week announced that it will be hiring 2,500 refugees throughout Europe by 2022.

The coffee giant will be working with the International Rescue Committee, Refugee Council, and other NGO partners leading refugee support and resettlement in order to recruit refugees to work in their stores across Great Britain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.

The new recruits will make up around 8% of Starbucks’ current European workforce of 30,000.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: “Refugees bring an incredible wealth of skills, knowledge and experience which are hugely beneficial to society. It’s so important that they are given the opportunity to apply their talents to employment here in the UK, and hiring schemes like this one delivered by Starbucks, really help that to become possible.”

The announcement was poignantly made on World Refugee Day (20 June).

Defiantly moving forward despite criticism from the public, with some calling for the coffee chain to be boycotted, Starbucks have now committed to hiring 6,000 refugees globally.

Images: REX Features


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Nicola Rachel Colyer

Nicola Colyer is a freelance writer and ex-corporate girl. A francophile and relapsing sugar-free graduate, she'll often be found seeking out the best places for brunch or struggling to choose between a green juice and a G&T.