On January 24 2018, Starbucks announced it would be extending its 6-week fully paid parental leave policy for hourly employees to include non-birth parents (partners, and adoptive and foster parents). This news came in the wake of Walmart's decision to extend their parental leave to their full-time hourly associates, including same-sex couples, adoptive and foster parents. In addition, Walmart went one step further by creating a $5,000-per-child fund to a help employees adopt.
Despite Starbucks attributing these new policies to the recent tax reform, PL+US: Paid Leave for the U.S., a small nonprofit advocating for paid family leave for everyone in the U.S., believes that powerful advocacy is in part responsible for these new policies.
In January 2017, Starbucks announced a paid parental leave policy that ignored non-birth mothers and fathers entirely, and they were met with criticism from parental leave advocates.
"Ever since Starbucks announced a wildly unequal paid parental leave policy in January of last year, they have faced ongoing pressure from baristas, investors, and advocacy organizations, to treat all employees — and their families- equally," said PL+US.
One of the grassroots campaigns championed by PL+US was led by Niko Walker and Ryan Cervantes: two employees who loved their jobs but felt that Starbucks didn't love them back. Although neither were parents, they knew the policy which excluded dads, LGBTQ+, and adoptive employees, could one day affect them personally. Walker, a transgender male, and Cervantes who is gay, launched an online social media campaign through Change.org and met with Starbucks executives in June 2017.
In October, Starbucks updating their policy to include adoptive parents but still left out barista dads. But in January, they made amends with their latest parental policy announcement which includes fathers.
"When companies make big changes, they are responding to a number of factors including market forces, brand identity, employee demand, and public policy," wrote PL+US in an article for Medium. "All of these factors came together through our focused, targeted campaign that had a significant victory today."