Starbucks executives, directors sued over diversity policy

File Photo: A Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles, California, USA on June 29, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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Aug 31 (Reuters) – Starbucks (SBUX.O) management and directors have been sued by a conservative think tank that believes the coffee chain’s efforts to promote diversity amount to racism.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, the National Center for Public Policy Research said Starbucks had set hiring targets for blacks and other people of color, awarded contracts to “diverse” suppliers and advertisers, and compensated executives. I objected to the association with diversity.

Plaintiffs, who are Starbucks shareholders, said these policies require the company to make race-based decisions that benefit minorities and violate federal and state civil rights laws.

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The defendants include 35 current and former Starbucks executives and directors, including interim CEO Howard Schultz.

Promoting diversity “provides personal benefits, even if it harms the company and its owners, by posing as virtuous champions of ‘inclusion, diversity, and equity,'” the complaint states. I’m here.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The Seattle-based company had 34,948 stores worldwide, including 17,050 in North America, as of July 3.

Many companies have stepped up their diversity and training efforts, including after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

In October 2020, Starbucks said that by 2025, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color will make up at least 30% of U.S. corporate jobs and 40% of U.S. retail and manufacturing jobs, It announced that it aims to tie salaries to diversity initiatives. .

Then in January, Starbucks announced plans to nearly double its annual spending with diverse suppliers and vendors to $1.5 billion by 2030, with 15% of this year’s advertising budget targeted at minority-owned “targets.” It promised to allocate it to a “squeezed” media company.

Tuesday’s lawsuit was filed in Washington state court in Spokane.

It seeks to invalidate Starbucks diversity policy and force defendants or their insurers to seek damages.

The case is National Center for Public Policy Studies v. Schultz et al., Spokane County Superior Court, No. 22-2-02945-32.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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