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Shareholders are calling for Starbucks to change its family leave policy.
On Monday, a group of shareholders led by Zevin Asset Management filed a resolution to express concern with the company’s “unequal paid parental leave policy.”
While Starbucks’ corporate offices have extensive maternity and paternity leave policies, these policies do not include in-store workers. Corporate employees can receive up to 18 weeks of paid maternal leave, and fathers or adoptive parents receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
However, in-store workers receive just six weeks of paid maternal leave. Adoptive parents can request up to six weeks of paid leave.
“This runs counter to Starbucks’s widely recognized commitment to social responsibility, nondiscrimination, and inclusion,” the resolution reads. “Our Company’s unequal stance may disproportionately harm low income workers and workers of color. LGBTQ workers face particular challenges, as they are four times more likely to parent adopted children and six times more likely to raise foster children.”
The resolution requests that Starbucks’ board prepare a report on the coffee giant’s family leave policy that evaluates the risk of employment discrimination at the company.
Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges told Business Insider that the company is one of the few to provide hourly employees full benefit eligibility at only 20 hours a week.
“We offer a more robust benefits package than any other retail company,” Borges said in an email.
He continued: “With respect to our new parental leave benefit, this will be exceptional within the retail industry not only because of paid time off component, but also because its offered to anyone who works just 20+ hours or more a week, and there is no tenure requirement attached to it.”
Zevin Asset Management, which classifies itself as a socially responsible impact investing firm, says it began conversations regarding weak family leave policies with more than 10 companies in client portfolios this summer.
“Paid family leave is a matter of gender justice in America. And it’s quickly becoming a business risk,” Pat Miguel Tomaino, associate director of socially responsible investing at Zevin, said in a statement.
Tomaino continued: “The huge gap between HQ and in-store workers at Starbucks can hurt morale at a firm that prides itself on equal treatment and social responsibility. Reserving paternal and adoptive parent leave for a chosen few in the company also opens Starbucks to potential discrimination claims. That’s why investors are getting involved.”