The changes that Richard Chambers has seen in his five years at Starbucks were hard to miss as the 23-year U.S. Air Force veteran addressed a ceremony held March 28 to commemorate 10,000 service members, veterans, and military spouses hired by Starbucks as part of an initiative announced in 2013.
Chambers, the chair of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network, recalled finding a sole fellow military retiree at the Starbucks Support Center (headquarters) when he started.
“The Starbucks Armed Forces Network could maybe get 12 veterans in a room,” Chambers says. “And then look at the journey since then—all the work that’s gone on with the recruiting team.”
More than three dozen Starbucks partners (employees) and company leaders, many with military backgrounds, gathered at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle to commemorate the hiring milestone. Starbucks reached 10,000 hires ahead of its initial 2018 goal. A new target of 25,000 by 2025 was announced March 22 at the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
“We are delighted to be able to not only meet and exceed the five-year commitment—we did that in three and a half years—but to also to step back and say, ‘There’s more that we can do,’” says incoming Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.
Johnson, who joined in a United States Marine Corps cake-cutting ceremony as part of the event, said Starbucks benefits richly from what the military community brings to the company.
“I’ve had the privilege to meet a number of the great men and women veterans who we’ve hired,” Johnson says. “It’s clear to me that they make us a better company with their discipline, their experience, their knowledge, and their commitment to what they do. They are mission-driven and they are wonderful, wonderful partners.”
The ceremony was conducted in front of the Starbucks Honor Wall, where engraved medallions inspired by “challenge coins” used in military culture display the names and military role of Starbucks partners. An additional 600 medallions were hung today.
In addition to its hiring commitment, Starbucks bridges the civilian-military divide through programs such as Adopt a Unit, Starbucks Military Family Stores (100 new stores will open over the next five years), and partnerships with organizations, including Blue Star Families, Team Red, White & Blue, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, the USO and Hiring Our Heroes.