Starbucks Is Making Good On Prior Announcement To Hire Refugees, Despite Calls For Boycott

"We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world."

Starbucks is making good on its promise to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide. The coffee chain announced on June 20, which just so happens to be World Refugee Day, that it plans to hire 2,500 refugees to work in its stores across Europe over the next five years. An additional 1,000 refugees are expected to be employed in Canada.

According to BuzzFeed News, the refugees will be employed in Starbucks stores across the U.K., France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands. Starbucks, which owns and operates over 24,000 stores worldwide is expected to work with NGOs — including the Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee — to provide the jobs.

When Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz initially announced in January that the coffee giant was developing plans to hire a total of 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries around the world, there was plenty of immediate backlash on social media and calls to boycott Starbucks, but this latest announcement proves the retailer is most definitely not backing down.



Londoners hold signs reading "Refugees welcome here" in 2016 to demonstrate support for child refugees. John Gomez / Shutterstock.com
Londoners hold signs reading "Refugees welcome here" in 2016 to demonstrate support for child refugees. John Gomez / Shutterstock.com

"We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world," Schultz said in statement at the time. "This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination."  

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Starbuck's plan to hire 10,000 of them is admirable, and accounts for just over 3 percent of the company's total 330,000-person workforce.

Despite arguments both at home and abroad that refugees might be "taking" jobs from citizens of the countries they relocate to, there's no real evidence to support that claim. In this case, a recent study by research firm Allegra Insights found the coffee retail sector relies heavily on migrant labour from Europe, which is likely to be significantly impacted by Brexit.

"We need 40,000 baristas by 2025, it's very concerning for the industry," Jeffrey Young, managing director at Allegra Insights, tells BuzzFeed.

As for claims that Starbuck's pledge to hire 10,000 refugees has hurt sales? The company set the record straight back in March via a letter from market research firm Kantar Millward Brown. According to Fortune, the letter said, in part, "We did not observe any substantive impact on customer consideration, future visitation intent or brand Perceptions or any other key performance metrics for the Starbucks brand."

Chobani, Walmart, and Tyson Foods, are just a handful of additional companies committed to hiring refugees

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