Now that the original travel ban and the revised travel ban has come and gone, many people fear the future of refugees in America. Thankfully, companies are working to better the lives of refugees looking for a safe and better start to their new life.
Starbucks, the highly modern and popular coffee chain has announced their plan to hire around 10,000 refugees from countries around the world. Although Starbucks is an American based company, Canadian Starbucks have agreed to hire thousands of refugees as well. On Wednesday, March 22, the CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz spoke out about his personal disbelief of President Trump’s travel bans in Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of refugee programs. As a result of his public criticism of the bans, he reaffirmed the Starbucks company values by announcing he will commit to hiring refugees. (In order to hire refugees, the company will either have to sponsor the refugees with job offers, or the refugee will have to obtain a Canada work visa.) Schultz also stated “building bridges, not walls, with Mexico” backing up his belief of embracing immigration.
The Starbucks Canada vice president, Luisa Girotto said “We see the role Canada plays in accepting refugees. These newcomers need jobs to resettle successfully. We believe in their potential. They have tremendous skills to contribute to our company and to our country.” As Girotto said, Canada has played a significant role in accepting and helping refugees compared to the American government. “All they need is the first opportunity to kick-start a new life in Canada. We have thousands of jobs to fill and enough opportunity for every segment in society.” Girotto added. The vice president announced that the Starbucks company would work with Hire Immigrants which is an agency out of Ryerson University that supports businesses to involve new immigrant workers. Working with Hire Immigrants to recruit, train and retain refugee employees through local communities networks in many cities throughout Canada such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary. The executive director of Hire Immigrants, Mark Patterson, said he wasn’t surprised when he was approached by Starbucks to become a partner of the refugee employment program. Starbucks has been very active in participating in their program called Starbucks’ Opportunity Youth program which focuses on hiring and training the young people to decrease the high youth unemployment rate. Hiring refugees will be integrated into this program as well. Patterson said “Here is a company that understands the diverse population it serves. Diversity is part of its values. We hope we can get the message out to show the economic values of being diverse and inclusive, and to spur other employers to do the same.”
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Starbucks is expected to experience some backlash from anti-immigrant supporters. Other companies that have hired refugees have suffered the same treatment. Chobani, a New York-based yogurt company, was attacked on social media for hiring refugees. Some people have boycotted the yogurt company, and it is also expected for Starbucks. The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is not fazed by the possibility of boycotting. Many people who are anti-immigrant have made the argument of why hire refugees if there are Americans without jobs. Starbucks has also contributed profoundly to the hiring of veterans and family members of veterans. Starbucks has hired more than 5,500 veterans and military spouses so far, and they have committed to making that number 10,000 by 2018. Starbucks also has planned to build 30 military family stores near U.S. military bases which will be managed and run by veterans and military spouses committed to connecting veterans and families to community and transition resources.
You can expect over the next five years to see Starbucks hire 10,000 refugees whose talent, experience and resilience enrich the communities we live in. Starbucks is already ahead of their current 10,000 hiring commitment of veterans and beyond their 36,000 hiring mark of youth. The Canadian economy highly depends on Canadian immigration, without it the structure of Canada would fall. With the help of Canadian Starbucks, refugees will have an opportunity with a great company and a safer country.
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