On Monday of this week my colleague David Streever reported the story about whacked out conservative Christians in a huff regarding Starbucks’ toned down red holiday hot cups for 2015.* In Seattle, Starbucks folks don’t seem to have lost much sleep over the issue. The company that backed marriage equality in WA State in 2013 and flew the GLBT Pride flag over Corp HQ for Pride 2015, doesn’t let much rattle it when it comes to doing the right thing. The company created by Howard Shultz, a devout Jew, believes in and practices embracing diversity, among its partners (Starbucks’ term for employees), among its suppliers, among its customers and among its neighbors. This week Starbucks announced a new program to be better neighbors in Seattle, its home city.
In SEP 2014, a Seattle Police Department veteran of 30+ years was appointed as the SPD’s first full-time liaison to Seattle’s GLBT Community. Officer Jim Ritter immediately began developing a program to address the recent uptick in bias crimes in the historic heart of Seattle’s GLBT community, the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The program is called Safe Place. The program was created to address the rise in hate crimes on Capitol Hill between 2013 with 19 reported crimes and 2014 which had 36.
The heart of the program is businesses that identify themselves as a safe place, a place of refuge for GLBT citizens. They are identified with a prominent decal that sports the rainbow Pride Flag inside the shield of a police officer’s badge. The employees of those businesses are trained to call 911 when a bias crime occurs and to also then provide safe harbor within the business premises until the police arrive. Starbucks has committed to designating 97 locations in Seattle as Safe Place participants. And to “train 2,000 Starbucks employees on how to respond to and engage with GLBT victims of violence and effectively report hate crimes to police.”
Starbucks has a very diverse employee base. The majority of its coffee store employees are millennial’s, the Nones, folks who don’t claim affiliation with religious organizations, but many of them have strong ethical motivation in their lives. Often that is why they are Starbucks employees, because the corporate ethos & values mesh well with their personal ethics. Starbucks commitment to the Safe Place initiative in Seattle is a corporate example of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you and loving your neighbor as yourself. Those are values found in most all religious faiths.
The main image and the story about SPD Officer Jim Ritter are from the Seattle Times.
The story about the Starbucks Safe Streets initiative is from HuffPost.
The image of Starbucks HQ with the Pride flag is from starbucks.com.
*Full disclosure – I love Starbucks Coffee. I love their corporate ethos and values. I love their coffee. I own their stock. And I live just north of Seattle.