Creating a sustainable future for communities

In case you were not already aware, we are well into the season of volunteering. Now, more than ever, we are seeing that community service is moving from a corporate CSR checkbox exercise into a far more significant social movement.

Indeed, serving one's community - wherever it may be - has become an act of citizenship and we believe business has both the opportunity and responsibility to be the driving force behind this. If this is to have any meaningful impact, private and public entities must work together.

So what do I mean by impact? Recently, The New York Times published a piece that explored the links between acts of social good and demonstrable, measurable success - citing several examples of how engaging in civic-minded actions increased one's affinity for a company or the likelihood of success within an enterprise. They are not alone in pursuing this line of thinking. In its 42 years in business, Starbucks has sought to balance the need to generate profit for shareholders with a socially-minded conscience, directly linking the value of the company in the marketplace with the values we live by, daily.

In a climate of instability, we are seeing a higher collective social conscience being demonstrated through consumer activism - particularly in restoring communities.

This comes with its own set of challenges for any business; fragile levels of trust among consumers, fractious markets, and a focus on hyper-local issues. But we also recognize that this presents a significant opportunity where business and societal need can intersect to create social movements.

The rise of volunteerism and community service is growing around the world, particularly among our younger generation of leaders. People are seeking ways to actively contribute to their community and looking to build affinity with others who believe and act accordingly. In turn, they are looking to brands that can help them unlock opportunities for engagement and activism.

Starbucks represents approximately 200,000 employees worldwide and serves about 70 million customers every week across 18,000 stores in 62 countries. We are part of society and believe we have an obligation to keep communities strong by addressing issues ranging from the fiscal cliff to investments into the areas surrounding our stores. But to create more impact, we need to find new ways to share our values.

It is for this reason that this year we are partnering with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Square, Deloitte, Fidelity Investments, and Alaska Airlines to bring our impact to scale in our annual Global Month of Service.

We selected these business partners to help us accelerate our reach and positive impact in communities. In April alone, we were able to inspire more than 250,000 hours of service across 40 countries. This is also why we recently launched a nonprofit corporation, LeadersUp. It will bring much- needed skills, leadership, and apprentice- ship programs to young people by leveraging our multibillion-dollar supply chain.

We are also continuing to grow our job-creation initiative by prioritizing local sourcing across America. The program seeks to invest in local communities that have been blighted by issues ranging from unemployment to lack of access to skills training. We are creating sustainable futures for many communities in partnership with others who believe, and act, with similar purpose.

Looking ahead, we believe that a business that does good is great for business. But a good business does not operate in a vacuum: customers, employees, business partners, supply chain, and community partners all have a part to play. Consumers will stay loyal to the brands they feel best re- present their values and ethos, and in turn, can help them to make a positive impact.

We will never stop focusing on our core business - delivering the highest-quality coffee to consumers every day - but we will continue to do this through the lens of humanity. We won't always get it right. Not everyone will agree with us, but we always try to listen, learn, and do the right thing.

We have so much more to achieve but believe that now, more than ever, our consumers, partners, and other collaborators are ready to take this journey with us.

Corey duBrowa is SVP, global communications for Starbucks. He was previously director of internal communications at Nike.

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