Starbucks announced Monday new and upcoming inclusivity practices the coffee chain will soon be enacting, including a commitment to introducing new technologies and store designs that will make Starbucks locations more accessible for people with disabilities.
These new store features include live speech to text technology to make it easier for employees to interact with deaf and hard of hearing customers, and an order readiness board in each store that would visually provide updates on the status of drink orders for those who cannot rely on audio cues.
“We applaud Starbucks’ commitment to designing more accessible in-store and digital experiences that create a true sense of belonging for everyone,” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of corporate activist group, Disability:IN, said in a statement. “This inclusive design methodology helps level the playing field by recognizing disability is part of the human condition and is a natural part of anyone’s identity. We know that by designing a better experience for people with disabilities, you are also designing a better experience for all.”
Starbucks has set a timeline of eight years for developing these inclusivity measures, with a goal of meeting these new requirements for both stores and online experiences by 2030.
The company has also committed to opening 1,000 more community stores in underserved and developing communities by 2030, with each store focused on bringing “locally relevant programming” to the neighborhood. Previously, Starbucks had set a goal of opening 100 of these stores by 2025, but surpassed that, as there are currently there are 150+ community stores. These stores are meant to boost communities by focusing on hiring locally, partnering with local artists, and providing dedicated community spaces for job seekers and local events.
Starbucks will be using the Human Development Index — which shows the human development progress of countries and communities at a person-by-person level — to determine where these community stores would be best served. The community stores will also become incubators for testing out “locally relevant programming” to expand the definition of the third-place experience across the U.S.
While Starbucks is committing to more inclusive store designs and community programming, the company continues to clash with workers as more locations file for unionization. Most recently, Starbucks asked its shareholders to vote against anti-harassment and anti-discrimination measures, a measure that has disappointed growing Starbucks union, SBWorkers United who called out their parent company for “resisting this attempt to hold them accountable."
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