Starbucks Corporation (Seattle, WA)

Starbucks Corporation (Seattle, WA)

2004 Employer of Choice Award Winner

Western Region

Paula Boggs
Paula Boggs
General Counsel

With more than 8,000 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific Rim, Starbucks Corporation is the leading retailer, roaster, and brand of specialty coffee in the world. Starbucks' success has come not only from the blends in its coffee and tea products, but the unique blending of backgrounds, histories, locations, and experiences of its partners (employees). Embracing diversity is the second guiding principle in the company's mission statement, and an essential component of the way it does business.

The Starbucks legal department is headed by Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel Paula Boggs. Starbucks was among the first Fortune 500 companies to name an African-American woman as general counsel. In fact, since the company went public in 1992, every general counsel it has hired has been a woman and/or person of color.

Of the department's 32 attorneys, 50 percent are female and 19 percent are people of color. The ages of Starbucks attorneys span from those in their thirties to those in their sixties. The legal department supports the company's diversity commitment by making concerted efforts to hire and retain an inclusive workforce and using outside law firms that reflect a diverse population. And in response to individual needs within the department, Starbucks has accommodated requests for alternative work schedules.

Increasing diversity within the legal department is part of the department's five-year strategic plan. A key part of the strategy is the use of outreach programs to diverse communities. Each summer, Starbucks hires at least one of its two summer law clerks from the Puget Sound Minority Clerkship Program; the company also retains search firms that specialize in providing a diverse slate of legal candidates. Its recruitment efforts are enhanced by Starbucks' participation at job fairs for lawyers of color and through posting job announcements on numerous diversity websites. In fact, the legal department's most recent attorney hire was found through the MCCA job bank.

Madeleine Kleiner, Paula Boggs, Veta Richardson
(L to R): Madeleine Kleiner, Hilton Hotels Corporation; Paula Boggs, Starbucks; and Veta Richardson, MCCA

But the department's outreach efforts do not stop there: It is involved with local and national bar associations that promote professional and legal advancement for people of color, women, and gay individuals. General Counsel Paula Boggs is a frequent speaker at national forums that promote diversity, such as the recent ABA summit for general counsel and managing partners, and she is a signatory to the Fortune 500 general counsel's Statement of Principles on Diversity. Starbucks' legal department recently became one of the first signatories to the initiative for diversity in Washington state, a statement of commitment and best practices for increasing diversity in Washington's courts, law firms, and companies.

Starbucks' outside counsel guidelines also incorporate its diversity expectations. Outside counsel are evaluated annually on the hours and dollars spent on legal work performed by people of color, women, and gay lawyers. The use of minority-owned firms is also tracked.

The demonstrated commitment of Starbucks legal department to ensuring diversity in its workplace and the offices of its outside counsel and community makes it clear why it was selected as one of this year's award recipients.

From the November/December 2004 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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