Starbucks CEO to Be Recognized for Employing Veterans, Military Spouses

Starbucks CEO to Be Recognized for Employing Veterans, Military Spouses

Since Starbucks started opening Military Family Stores near installations a few years ago, the number of military-themed locations staffed largely by veterans and military spouses has grown to 34 at present, with another 100 planned.

At one of these, you're likely to spot Starbucks' signature green frocks embroidered with a U.S. flag and an indication of the employee's military ties - spouse or veteran. The store culture is shaped around giving back to the military community. On Military Mondays, local veterans' service organizations might staff one of Starbucks' free legal clinics for veterans.

Companywide, Starbucks has delivered on its promise to hire troops and spouses, onboarding 12,000 since 2013.

“These men and women are making us a better company,” says Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson. “They bring invaluable experience and show both discipline and passion for what they do.”

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But that's not what surprises him. “What we've realized is how much there still is for us to learn and do.” Johnson took over as CEO last year when past CEO and For Love of Country author Howard Schultz became executive chairman.

Johnson's personal military connection dates back to his grandfather's World War II service in a tank crew in Europe.

“My grandparents had a framed photograph in their home of my grandfather in full military uniform standing next to my grandmother who was holding a baby” - Johnson's mother - “in her arms,” he recalls. “He … was a wonderful grandfather to me.”

As CEO, and in his prior role as chief operating officer, Johnson has served on Starbucks' executive steering committee, advising strategically on military and veterans' affairs. He now leads Starbucks on the next leg of its mission: to raise the number of veteran and spouse hires to 25,000 by 2025.

“And while we hope to beat that goal as well, it has never been about a number,” he says. “Our intention has been to welcome veterans and military spouses, not out of charity or even patriotism, but because we know they add real value to any enterprise.”

He perceives opportunities in the workforce - and benefits to a company - in fostering more state-to-state job transfers for spouses and in making it easier to go to work in a field such as teaching or health care with a credential from another state.

When Starbucks hires a new veteran or military spouse, the individual's name is etched onto a medallion and added to a display at the Seattle headquarters. They're invited to join Starbucks' Armed Forces Network, an employee affinity group that helps members of the military community inside and outside the company.

“This is a diverse community, and we need to make sure these men and women feel welcomed with a culture of warmth, understanding, and appreciation,” Johnson says. “Most transitioning veterans are on a journey, and we want to be part of that.”

Johnson and Vantage Mobility International CEO Tim Barone are receiving the 2018 Distinguished Service Award.