November 2018

Brewing a culture of warmth and belonging

Tata Starbucks seeks to nurture the human spirit through the creation of a diverse and inclusive workplace

Partners at Tata Starbucks feel a sense of pride in the supportive and diverse environment they are a part of

Tata Starbucks is a performance-driven organisation that encourages diversity in order to create a workplace that is truly inclusive. From the beginning, the company’s endeavour was to create a culture of belonging at the workplace where Partners (employees are called Partners at Tata Starbucks), feel like they are part of something bigger. Tata Starbucks is committed to upholding a culture where diversity is valued and respected. Over its 5-year journey, Tata Starbucks has grown women participation in their partner base from 16 percent in FY14 to 26 percent in FY18 and this still continues to grow.

At Tata Starbucks, increasing diversity has meant hiring highly talented, passionate and skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds, individuals with the right values and behaviour — and not just the right skills and experience.

In order to attract a diverse talent pool, Tata Starbucks:

Focuses on equal representation at the hiring stage
With the objective of gender equity in the workforce, Tata Starbucks focuses its attention on achieving equal representation for women at the hiring stage itself. Women-centric sourcing channels such as women’s hotel management or educational campuses and NGOs like Magic Bus, EGMM, Trrain, The/Nudge Foundation, Teach India, and Bunyad provide the company access to a reliable talent pool.

Partners with Tata Strive and other NGOs
The company not only hires from NGOs but has also partnered with Tata Strive (a Tata group skill development initiative addressing the pressing need of skilling India’s youth for employment, entrepreneurship and community enterprise) to provide vocational training to over 3,000 youth over the next five years. This collaboration also developed India’s first quick service restaurant (QSR) specific vocational training course, which is now being used to train several young students across the country. 

Hires ‘second-career’ women 17
The company also encourages hiring ‘second-career’ women through the Tata Second Careers, Inspiring Possibilities (SCIP) platform. In addition to SCIP, Tata Starbucks has also launched a Special Referral Scheme called ‘Brew of Balance’ — a return to work programme which provides flexible employment opportunities for women who may have never worked before or for those who had to take a career break.

Offers flexible employment/work hours
Hiring a diverse workforce is just the beginning; retaining them is equally important for the sustainability of this initiative. Flexible employment/part-time opportunities plus the ability to work from home or office depending upon the nature of the job allows employees the flexibility to balance their personal and professional lives. Partners also have the option of switching between full-time and part-time roles, or vice versa, depending on their need. Tata Starbucks has seen nearly 7 percent of their partners switching between part time and full time roles by leveraging the flexible employment model. This has helped the organisation with high retention success leading to an attrition rate that currently stands at less than half of the industry benchmark. Anita Sonawane, a barista at Starbucks, who utilises the flexibility the company offers says, “I am a single mother and have been working with Starbucks for the last 5 years. The work life balance is great and I never feel that I am unable to spend enough time with my child.”

Creates development pathways
Tata Starbucks focuses on creating growth and skill development opportunities for partners to groom them for managerial and leadership roles. Development initiatives include cross-functional projects, leadership development programmes such as BLEND – a 12 month long programme embedded with Lean Six Sigma action learning projects, development centre, job rotations enabled through internal job postings and free online courses on the Starbucks Global Academy. The company also invests in women-specific leadership programmes such as the group’s mentorship initiative called Tata Mentors.

Has employee-friendly policies
The company continues its commitment to offer a supportive environment through various partner-friendly policies, especially around significant life events such as marriage and child birth.

  • First QSR company to implement a five-day week for all store partners

  • Clearly defined shift timings for women and safe travel arrangements for women partners, including part-time partners

  • Extended long leave policy for life events such as adoption, bereavement, paternity and maternity breaks

  • Lactation rooms for women returning from a maternity break

  • Child care assistance through tie-ups with child care centres and partial reimbursement of day care expenses

Gender pay equity
In a world plagued with gender pay inequities, Tata Starbucks shines as one of the few companies who are equal pay employers. The company has achieved 100 percent gender pay equity through a structured and systematic approach focused on pay for position and performance.

A willing ear
It is important for businesses to forge a culture where people from diverse backgrounds can feel truly welcome and be wholly themselves in the workplace. Tata Starbucks has put in place
various listening mechanisms to receive insights from partners, address their concerns and respond to their queries.

Ethics helpline: A platform for partners to raise their concerns in full confidence, without the fear of retaliation and victimisation

Partner round tables: These meetings allow a diverse group of partners including trainees to share their thoughts and concerns about company matters with leaders from partner resources and line functions

iCall: A free telephone and email-based counselling facility in association with Tata Institute of Social Sciences for partners, their families and friends

Employee engagement survey: The annual survey is an integral source to learn about partners’ ideas to improve the workplace. The feedback forms the basis of a majority of the company’s future initiatives Tata Starbucks’ partners are not only diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and age, but also in cultural backgrounds, life experiences, thoughts and ideas. Embracing this diversity not only enhances Tata Starbucks’ work culture, but also drives its business success. Tata Starbucks’ efforts in building a diverse and inclusive workplace have also been celebrated through recognitions such as ‘India’s Top 10 Best Workplaces in Retail – 2018’ by Great Place to Work Institute and ‘100 Best Companies to work for Women by Working Mother and Avatar’ for the second consecutive year in 2018.

Partners at Tata Starbucks feel a sense of pride for the supportive and diverse environment they are a part of. In the words of Nisha Singh, a store manager at Tata Starbucks, “I’m proud to be part of an organisation that is recognised as one of the best places to work for women.”

This article first appeared in July 2018 issue of Diversity Matters, the magazine that captures developments in the diversity and Inclusion space from Tata group companies