Sadly, more and more of its employees are out these days because of job cuts. And, clearly the last few years haven’t been kind to this global, retail coffee king. The company lost its mojo by expanding much too quickly into neighborhoods, towns and specific spots that didn’t fit its customer base. On top of that, Starbucks greatly diluted its brand by lessening coffee brewing standards (that had made it the champion in the first place) and by offering so many other foods (like sausage breakfast sandwiches) which greatly changed the atmosphere and experience at the actual store.
All of this negative commotion has seemingly taken away some credit that the company deserves for continually leading the way in giving back to communities and the world. And, that’s too bad. Since the beginning, Starbucks has been a leader in making sure that its products (coffee beans) are grown, harvested, transported, etc., in the most environmentally friendly way. The company also pays strict attention to taking care of the local resources and indigenous people where its coffee originates from. And, if you go to Starbucks’ web site, one can find countless programs that the company offers to promote giving back to worthwhile causes.
A few weeks ago, Starbucks launched another very smart and caring program called “Are you in?” Based on President Obama’s mandate to be more civic minded and conduct community service, Starbucks is asking consumers to pledge just five hours of service within his/her community and it will do its part by handing out a large, free cup of hot coffee. There’s a special pledge page on the company’s web site to get started.
Starbucks received some nice publicity when this program came out (I remember seeing it on one of the national morning shows.) I would imagine that the company is pleased with that because every organization wants to be recognized for these cause programs. But for Starbucks, this is really just a drop in the bucket. Giving back and standing tall around causes that matter are part of this company’s DNA. Some would say its Starbuck’s signature on the society we live in.
Lots of companies start, stop and start again various programs to help causes. Many do it because they really care (but are torn between what issues to stand behind.) Others simply want the exposure and good will that often comes with it but don’t care enough to make any one program sustainable. I submit that it doesn’t really matter what cause or issue your company puts its resources behind. Like Starbucks, it needs to take on a higher meaning and should become a signature-like program that is tied to your business.
Only in this way, can companies always see just how strategic those causes are to make the organization a deeper, more caring part of that community or constituent base, and to realize that it actually is helping to grow business as well. One would hope that this type of signature program would become a part of the company’s fabric, which would end the all too frequent starts and stops that take place because of bad economic conditions, new leadership or any other reason.