Starbucks plans to hire at least 10,000 military veterans and active-duty spouses over the next five years, according to the Seattle Times.
Chief Executive Howard Schultz, who will detail the plan Wednesday, has charted an aggressive global expansion that ultimately calls for 500,000 employees companywide, up from 200,000 today.
The announcement also coincides with a massive drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan, meaning more than a million people will leave the military and transition to civilian life over the next few years.
Schultz will be joined Wednesday at Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle by former Secretary of Defense and CIA director Robert Gates, now a Starbucks board member.
“This is, in my view, not charity or philanthropy. But in fact, this is good business,” Schultz said Monday in an interview at the company’s Sodo offices. “These are highly skilled, highly trained people who have significant leadership capabilities, who will add value to Starbucks.”
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, announced a plan in January to hire any veteran who applies for a job within a year of an honorable discharge. Wal-Mart expects to hire more than 100,000 vets within five years.
September’s unemployment rate for all veterans was 6.5 percent, well below the national average of 7.2 percent.
But Starbucks director Gates said, “It’s not enough until every veteran has a job,”
Businesses, said Gates, “have stepped up over the last year or so, from Wall Street to Main Street, in committing to hire a significant number of veterans.”
Starbucks’ plan builds on a veterans-mentoring program that it began six years ago in partnership with the Armed Forces Network.