LGBT+ | Starbucks receives backlash from employees after new advert

Starbucks receives backlash from employees after new advert

For all employers, striking up a public corporate message that is fully reflective of the internal culture is crucial.

Not only will this attract and retain staff and create a prosperous and inclusive working environment, but it will also help the businesses’ bottom line too.

Yet, upon the release of Starbucks UK’s new advert – which features a trans man struggling with being called his “deadname” (the name he was assigned at birth) – the chain has received backlash from several former and current employees who claimed that the firm’s publicly professed values aren’t a true representation of the way that staff are treated internally.

BuzzFeed News reported that some staff members claimed they had been ‘outed to their colleagues’, encountered deadnaming due to company software and experienced issues with accessing the gender-affirming treatment – a benefits package that the coffee chain has had in its health plan since 2012 in the US.

One Texas-based employee, Tucker Jace Webb, told BuzzFeed News that these benefits encouraged him to work there.

But since joining the firm, Webb claimed that he was outed by a senior employee over his trans identity. “[I] thought that it was appropriate to tell of my shift supervisors about my trans identity," he told BuzzFeed News. "In my interview, I said that is information I don't want anyone else knowing."

Webb took to Twitter alleging:

He also shared that despite employee software allowing him to enter his name, the new-hire system greeted him with his deadname. After informing his managers, he claimed he was informed that nothing could be done unless he had a legal name change.

While Starbucks declined to provide comment to BuzzFeed regarding the individual claims, a Spokesperson said: “We take great pride in providing a warm and welcoming environment for everyone, and intentional misgendering is not acceptable conduct at Starbucks.

"It is not align [sic] with our mission and values, nor with our employment policies regarding harassment and discrimination."

Yet, Webb felt that the firm did have concrete policies higher up within the business, but he claimed that seeing them implemented at store level was less prevalent.

Trans and non-binary inclusion guide

Last year, Lloyd’s of London issued a Guide to Trans and Non-Binary Inclusion as part of a cultural overhaul following a wealth of bad press surrounding sexual harassment.

The 29-page document is sought to promote the inclusion of trans and non-binary people, providing advice and resources for those in the sector to create a “stable emotional work environment for trans and non-binary colleagues.”

Looking for more

The guide issues advice on matters such as language, including how to ask someone their preference when it comes to pronouns. Managers are given guidance on how they can help colleagues feel included, which can start off with including their own pronouns on professional email signatures.

Which LGBT+ policies should HR have in place?

With 2019 estimates suggesting that more than nine million individuals in the UK identify as LGBT+, it is crucial that HR has policies in place to include, support and celebrate their lives, identities and work-life contributions.

Karen Thompson, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Fujitsu UK&I previously told HR Grapevine, that HR policies should reflect an organisation’s culture and empower talent.

She explained: “You need to truly understand LGBT+ experiences within your organisation to make sure your policies are creating an inclusive LGBT+ workplace.

“When looking at your policies think about the language that you are using. By reviewing your policies through an LGBT+ lens you can ensure that they are relevant to LGBT+ employees. For example, would your same-sex parents feel that your maternity and paternity policies include them?

“By making policies inclusive you signal to LGBT+ employees that they are an integral part of your thought process when creating policies.”

This can include supporting employees going through specific LGBT+ life events such as transitioning or coming out.

“By highlighting relevant guidance and providing support to employees and managers, HR will help LGBT+ employees feel welcome, comfortable and safe being completely who they are at work,” she concluded.

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Comments (1)

  • Boris
    Fri, 7 Feb 2020 1:13pm GMT
    I hate to say it but I never really believed the advert in terms of staff, and I would question it with regards to customers too. Starbucks has a long history of saying one thing and doing another, as such it's going to take a lot more than an advert about inclusivity to get me to trust them and I am shocked that others haven't figured this out too. Starbucks are not worth my money until they can prove, categorically, that conditions for staff and customers have improved significantly. Until then I am voting with my cash.

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