Thursday, July 19, 2018

Has Starbucks become discriminatory?

A Starbucks store within Salt Lake International Airport
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) is in the process of opening stores inside Publix supermarkets in Florida. That creates a number of concerns. The arrangement creates a considerable culture clash.

Starbucks is a robust supporter of LGBT equality. It enjoys a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. On January 24, 2012 the company issued a memorandum in support of marriage equality (courtesy of an outraged National Organization for Marriage).

Publix, on the other hand, refuses to even participate in the HRC survey (I can't imagine why). The company cannot identify a single LGBT manager and it is a known fact that Publix discriminates. Diversity for Publix means complying with state and local law. The company has nearly 800 stores in Florida. The state provides no LGBT protections and outside of Miami-Dade County very few of those employees have workplace protections. Publix's culture is defined by Christian supremacy.

I have poured through SEC documents and cannot find any disclosures. Publix is privately held but must meet SEC disclosure requirements due to its ESOP. By the way, employees should see just how small their stake in the company is.

This agreement might not be “material” requiring disclosure. At this point we have no understanding of how this relationship is structured, who these employees work for and who supervises them. If Starbucks is merely leasing space inside Publix stores there is little concern. If the relationship is more complicated than that then we need to find out what the terms are.

When I receive more information from shareholder relations I will update this post.

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