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Starbucks’ Social Responsibility Approach


For any business’ long-term growth, competitiveness, and maintaining customer loyalty, the prioritization of ethics in conduct is essential. Indeed, a commitment to social responsibility contributes to a company’s sustainable development and increased value based on caring for communities, the environment, and individuals. While the general concept of social responsibility provides a significant basis for structuring business performance models, specific features and approaches used by particular organizations are worth analyzing. This paper will concentrate on Starbucks’ social responsibility approach as it is informed by the company’s mission, vision, and values and how it affects the overall operations of the organization.

Social Responsibility at Starbucks

Starbucks is a US-based global coffee company that has been working in the industry for 50 years. The social responsibility of a business entity entails a scope of business strategy and activities aimed at prioritizing the responsibility before the communities impacted by the company’s operations. Overall, the approach to social responsibility in the company is observed through the discourse style Starbucks uses to communicate its attitude toward the business in general and the company goals in particular (Campbell & Helleloid, 2016). Indeed, when reviewing the website of the company, one might notice that the employees at Starbucks are referred to as partners and are continuously prioritized over services or monetary benefits. Thus, the people-first strategy is rooted in the company’s articulation of its goals and operations, as well as in the communication with employees and customers. Moreover, the company partners with multiple suppliers and cares about the quality of connection for the best service and product.

The most illustrative of social responsibility are the vision, mission, and values of a company. For Starbucks, the company’s vision and mission contain such phrases as “to inspire and nurture the human spirit,” “we take our responsibility to be good neighbors seriously,” and “the world is looking to Starbucks to set the new standard” (Campbell & Helleloid, 2016, p. 56). Thus, it is evident that social responsibility at Starbucks is integrated into its formulation of vision and mission, as well as values, which include respect and nurturing toward human potential, planet safety, and community benefits. Ultimately, people, environment, and communities are equally addressed by Starbucks’ social responsibility strategy.

In addition, particular activities and initiatives demonstrate the alignment of the company with the articulated social responsibility principles. In 2001, the company announced its commitment to social responsibility and launched a Global Responsibility Report (Campbell & Helleloid, 2016). For example, as the official website of the company demonstrates, Starbucks supports Ethos Water, campaigning to provide clean water to over 1 billion people from areas with water scarcity issues. Moreover, the initiation of the Starbucks Foundation yielded significant improvement in local communities through the process of investment into diverse programs and campaigns aimed at helping the underprivileged (Campbell & Helleloid, 2016). In a similar manner, employment practices, supplier engagement, and partnership are established through ethical and equality-promoting training and recruiting techniques. Environmental issues are also adequately addressed due to the significant attention the company paid to energy use reduction shift toward sustainable and ethics-based production of coffee.


In summation, the discussion of the approach to social responsibility employed at Starbucks has demonstrated that the company has a strong and well-defined social responsibility strategy. It is reflected in the organization’s mission, vision, and values, as well as has been explicitly articulated within the Global Responsibility Reports. The launching of the Starbucks Foundation, initiation of grants, environmental campaigns, community investments, and job training and recruiting techniques vividly illustrate the company’s concern with individuals, communities, and the environment.


Campbell, K., & Helleloid, D. (2016). Starbucks: Social responsibility and tax avoidance. Journal of Accounting Education, 37, 38-60.

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