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Starbucks Lives Its Values

Starbucks Coffee Company epitomizes the principle that companies should Live By The Values They Profess. One example is in the way the company purchases coffee. Last year, when prices of commercial-grade arabica coffee sold in commodity markets for 55 to 70 cents per pound, Starbucks regularly paid negotiated prices averaging $1.20 per pound directly to coffee farmers. The practice helps improve conditions for farmers in coffee producing communities and helps maintain long-term customer relationships on which the growers can depend.

At Starbucks, the values listed in its mission statement define the company's culture and guide the behavior of its employees. According to Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, "If people relate to the company they work for, if they share an emotional tie to it and buy in to its dreams, they will pour their heart into making it better." The employees, or partners as Starbucks refers to them, seem to agree: 78 percent of the company's partners say the organization's values provide meaningful direction in their jobs at Starbucks.

Starbucks takes commitment to its core values to a higher level. Employees are encouraged to hold their leaders accountable by expressing their opinions on whether or not the organization's practices are consistent with its mission statement. All concerns are shared with Starbucks leaders and employees can expect a response. In addition, the company publishes a Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report, listing initiatives, programs, and activities that demonstrate how Starbucks provides social, environmental, and economic benefits to the communities in which it operates. It takes the added step of hiring a certified public accounting firm to verify the report's contents.

Why are company values so important? Job candidates are less likely now than ever before to select an employer based simply on financial rewards. The emphasis now is on values. Today, people seek out employers with values consistent with their own, and look for ways to satisfy their interests and needs by aligning with the mission of an enterprise. Those organizations that recognize the role of values in leadership, and who Live By The Values They Profess, will win the war for talent, both in attracting and retaining the best workers.

Read the Starbucks Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report.
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