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Why All New Dads Need Paid Leave: An Open Letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

February 13, 2017

 

A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON THE LETTER

 

change.org petition brought to my attention that Starbucks (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) does not offer paid leave to new dad baristas (“partners” in Starbucks talk). Motivated by the petition, I sent the below letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, asking him to provide paid leave for new dads.

 

LETTER TO CEO OF STARBUCKS, HOWARD SCHULTZ

 

Dear Mr. Schultz,

 

As you prepare to transition from CEO to Executive Chairman, I send you this letter both to share my admiration for you and the company you’ve built, and to ask that you consider one more initiative during your tenure.

 

You and the Starbucks business model have long inspired me. Visiting Starbucks for the first time in Seattle years ago, I witnessed the origins of its wild success: two locations, just across the street from one another, both bustling! And later, as a graduate student, I was moved when reading Pour Your Heart Into It. I admired your decision to provide benefits to part-time partners and institute the Starbucks U program, and applauded your vocal support of same-sex marriage.

 

Simply put, it is the way Starbucks, through your leadership, has consistently aimed to do right by its customers, partners, and suppliers, that has affected so many of us beyond the experience of sipping coffee at your tables.

 

And so I thank you, and ask that in your final days heading up operations you might continue, as the leader of this trailblazing company and as a father, to stand up for what’s right. Would you implement six weeks of paid leave for the other dads in your company?

 

A recent report compiled by PL+US* suggests Starbucks provides no paid leave to new dads in the U.S. Yet there are countless benefits to doing so, including:

 

• Dads who take an early hands-on role in their children’s lives are more likely to be involved for years to come.
• New moms whose partners take leave have decreased rates of post-partum depression and increased earning potential.
• It is inclusive of same-sex couples.
• It recognizes the importance of dads and supports egalitarian gender roles.
• It boosts the bottom line through recruitment, retention, and worker motivation.

 

Most dads cannot afford to take sufficient paternity leave – meaning leave that is more than vacation and other paid time off cobbled together – without a formal paid leave policy and management culture that supports it. Paid parental leave is a major issue nationwide, and the public would notice if Starbucks changed its policy. Won’t you and Starbucks take the lead on leave?

 

Most Sincerely,

 

Rachel Loftspring
Founder and CEO, The Breeding Ground

 

* The Breeding Ground was not involved in the creation of this report.

 

For a link to the actual letter sent, click here.

 

STARBUCKS’ POLICY EXPANSION

 

Around the same time I sent my letter, this article came out detailing Starbucks’ plans to expand its paid leave policy as of October 1, 2017. And while I applaud the expansion, there remain significant issues.

 

Under the expanded policy, Starbucks will provide to “corporate” employees–not baristas–18 weeks of paid leave for birth moms and 12 weeks of paid leave for non-birth parents. This is fantastic… if you’re a corporate employee.

 

For the 160,000 baristas, however, under the expanded policy eligible birth-moms receive 6 weeks of paid leave at 100% pay (an expansion from 67%) and new dads and other non-birth parents receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave (likely something most already had because of FMLA).

 

In other words, even under the expanded policy new dad baristas receive no paid leave!

 

Starbucks should amend its new policy so that all dads and other non-birth parents receive 12 weeks of paid leave (note: at the time of my letter, I asked for 6 weeks of paid leave to match what I understood birth moms then received), regardless of their position within the company.

 

Starbucks should similarly provide 18 weeks of paid leave to all birth moms regardless of position. Of course, an even better — and simpler — policy would be to extend 18 weeks of gender-neutral paid leave to all new parents regardless of position.

 

AGREE? WHAT YOU CAN DO: SPREAD THE WORD!

 

As of this posting, I have not heard back from Mr. Schultz or his office.

 

Help amplify the message by sharing the letter on social media.

 

I truly believe Mr. Schultz and Starbucks aim to do the right thing. What’s more, Starbucks should be applauded for its expanded policies– they are much more robust than the policies of most companies in the U.S.

 

However, these benefits should apply equally throughout the company, and, importantly to ALL new dads.

 

As a community of parent advocates, we have the power to make a difference for U.S. families. Sharing this letter is one way: it could help tens of thousands of Starbucks employees. Plus, who knows what other companies may decide to follow Starbucks’ lead? Let’s make sure that example supports all new dads!

 

Like us, and join our growing community of parents on our Facebook page! You can access great resources, such as our guide on how to advocate for paid leave at work, on our website.

 

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