I have a new focus for Resolution Tuesday – it’s been building all this time I have been away from The End of Motherhood, honest! Each Tuesday I am going to report on my efforts to get as many people as possible to boycott Starbucks. Why?
So glad you asked.
Where it is legal to do so, Starbucks practices gender apartheid. I first learned about it in this article in the LA Times. Put simply, if you are a woman who happens to be in Saudi Arabia and enters your local Starbucks to order your daily Venti no-foam non-fat cappucino, you will not be allowed to sit in the brightly lit area with a view of the street and comfortable chairs that is right next to the coffee bar. No, you will be required to go through a small door into a dark, small windowless space and where you will only be able to hope you get lucky enough to find a chair.
Needless to say, Starbucks would not be allowed to practice this form of segregation in the United States.
There are other American companies that also practice gender apartheid (Dunkin’ Donuts is a notable and courageous exception). So why single out Starbucks?
Cause they’re asking for it.
So glad you asked.
Starbucks pays a lot of lip service to the notion of being a "socially responsible" company. In fact, each year they put out a Corporate Social Responsibililty Annual Report. The 2006 version opens with a letter from Chairman Howard Schultz and President and CEO Jim Donald that includes the following lines that really stuck in my craw: "Delivering great coffee, exceptional service and an uplifting and personal customer experience have all contributed to Starbucks success" (italics are mine).
I don’t know about you, but I am 100% sure that being forced, due solely to the accident of my gender, to sip my tea in a separate and inferior section of Starbucks would not qualify as an uplifting and personal customer experience.
Back to that pesky report. Schultz and Donald go on to write: "Equally important has been our commitment to conducting business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner" (italics are mine).
Uh, I don’t think so. I wrote to Starbucks today asking how they could call themselves socially responsible and practice gender apartheid at the same time. I’ll let you know if they respond.
All I am saying is this. Until Starbucks stops treating women as second class citizens where it’s legal to do so, I’m heading on over to Peet’s for my tea and coffee.
I hope you will consider finding a non-Starbucks local coffee shop to support – one that doesn’t, ever, anywhere, make a single penny from the practice of treating women like second class citizens.
More on this every Tuesday – cause the End of Motherhood opens up all kinds of possibilities.