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Starbucks agrees with EEOC on alleged promotion bias

Following allegations of racial bias in its promotions, Starbucks announced on Wednesday that it had reached a voluntary agreement with the Equ Equality Opportunity Commission to resolve the allegations and would change its promotion practices.

According to a report for Starbucks by law firm Covington & Burling, “EEOC claims were based primarily on labor force data from 2007 to 2011, which, according to the EEOC, show that minority retail partners in the United States received less progress than statistically expected “

The firm says its analysis of data by Starbucks “did not reveal systemic racial discrimination in incentives.” Covington & Burling did not investigate the allegations on its own, the report said.

In a letter to staff on Wednesday, CEO Kevin John Onson said Starbucks had reached an agreement with the EEOC “through a voluntary process earlier this year.” John Onson said the company did not know what prompted the allegations.

Wednesday’s Starbucks report is the third since Starbucks first launched a “civil rights assessment” after a store manager in Philadelphia called police for two blacks, and the video of their arrest went viral in 2018. in:

In the wake of the global protests over the killing of George Lloyd Floyd by police in Minneapolis last summer, Starbucks received a backlash after workers were banned from wearing the Black Lives Matter logo at work. The company later withdrew from the policy, saying that employees could wear some of the Black Lives Matter symbols until they received T-shirts designed by the company with some illustrated signs with “unity” messages. և “justice”. One of the pictures on one of the signs said: “Love is possible.”

In October, the Seattle-based coffee chain announced that executive salaries would be linked to the racial diversity of its workforce, and released statistics on its workforce diversity. The company recently appointed investor Melody Hobson as chairman of its board, making her the only SB woman to chair the S&P 500.

Starbucks’s corporate workforce is less racially diverse than employees in its retail locations. According to the company, about 8% of retailers are girls, 5% are Asians and about 27.5% are Hispanic or Latin. About 4% of corporate employees are girls, 7% are Hispanic or Latin, and 19% are Asian.

According to a report by Covington & Burling, retail managers “will no longer be able to make promotions outside of the hired promotion process,” and only candidates who apply through the process will be considered for open positions.

Starbucks plans to launch a system for retail job posting, promotion opportunities, hiring an independent economist to assess its progress, the report said. The company plans to implement new training and interview guidelines “to empower store managers to make fair pay-based decisions based on job requirements.”

“The agreement is not only the right thing for partners, it also made us focus more resources on the structural changes needed to support partners’ career advancement, to ensure that each partner has the opportunity to explore opportunities for advancement,” wrote John Onson.

Marieva Claviter, a professor of labor economics at the University of Washington who has studied labor discrimination, says that informal incentives are a common source of alleged bias in the workplace.

“In general, we love people like us. It goes according to racial-gender lines, national origin, immigration status. “People who are like us think like us,” said Claviter. “So if I’m a manager looking for people who I think will do very well, I’m probably going to promote people who are like me, like me, like me.”

Formulated processes can begin to protect against that bias, Claviter said. Some employers have called their hiring processes anonymous to avoid learning names, gender, race, or other factors later in the interview.

John Onson’s letter states that employees will learn about the new practice in future conversations with managers.

Claviter said that popular efforts like this work depend on backwardness.

“It’s easy to have a big program, to have a big celebration with ‘we make changes’, and then it will be off the agenda. “Any serious attempt at organizational change must be consistent,” he said.


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