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Starbucks on Inclusion of Deaf Community

As signed by Starbucks partner, Ryan Schlecht

Recent allegations have surfaced in the media regarding the treatment of some Deaf customers in two of our New York City stores. On behalf of the over 200,000 partners (employees), we want to take the opportunity to be clear that discrimination of any kind is not tolerated at Starbucks. We take these allegations very seriously, and believe they are neither consistent with our values nor our track record of engaging the Deaf community both as partners and as customers.

We want Starbucks to be a place where Deaf people want to work and visit. We strive to provide a Starbucks Experience that is culturally sensitive and inclusive of Deaf etiquette. We are proud of our continued growth in recruiting and employing members of the Deaf community at our headquarters in Seattle, as well as in our stores in the U.S. and across the globe. We are also grateful for the positive feedback we continue to receive from the Deaf community on our accessibility in stores, as well as the opportunity to support American Sign Language interpreted store events.

At Starbucks, inclusion and cultural sensitivity are core to our leadership training and foundational to the Starbucks Experience. We promote equality, inclusion and accessibility, including offering a number of ways we directly support our Deaf partners and customers.

  • We provide training, including American Sign Language as well as a “Creating a Deaf Friendly Environment” course, to help engage our partners in delivering an accessible environment for all.
  • We also provide communications equipment and resources to our Deaf partners for interpreting services such as video relay interpreting services, real time captioning, flashing strobe light signalers for emergency evacuation notice, and video captioning.
  • Our Starbucks Access Alliance also helps promote equal opportunity and accessibility for partners and customers.
  • Starbucks is a business with humanity at its soul and communities in which we have the opportunity to serve are the heart of our business.

    More information on inclusion and accessibility from Cliff Burrows, Starbucks group president, Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Teavana, can be found on our website here. We also welcome you to view a few of our Deaf partners’ stories as told here, here, and here.

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