Starbucks has long been known for its liberal politics, but it’s drawing attention again after revealing how far the company is willing to go in the realm of activism and support for transexuals.
On Monday, the coffee giant announced its decision to cover all surgical expenses for current and future transgender employees, according to The Hill.
Since 2012, Starbucks has proclaimed great pride in funding the sometimes controversial gender reassignment surgery for its employees.
Now, the company is expanding its coverage and opting to pay for several additional cosmetic procedures and services for transgendered employees.
For example, surgeries such as facial feminization, voice therapy, breast reduction or augmentation and hair removal or transplants will now be covered.
Ron Crawford, Starbucks vice president of benefits, said the new plan will make the company fully inclusive.
“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” Crawford said in a company blog post.
“I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path. You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health brought Starbucks on as a partner and together they crafted a benefits package that Crawford said isn’t being offered elsewhere.
“Nobody else is doing this. We would love to see more employers doing this,” Crawford added in the corporate blog.
While Starbucks is an independent business that can make its own decisions, there are definitely reasons other companies probably won’t be launching benefit programs like this one.
First and foremost, it’ll likely be a target of abuse, even if it’s on a very small scale.
Theoretically, would-be transgender individuals will be able to get a job at a local shop, work for a few months until benefits kick in and then request the company fund their numerous, expensive surgeries.
Second, this program wades into legitimate gray area. Gender reassignment surgery is elective — especially the numerous cosmetic procedures Starbucks is now saying it will cover. Basically, how far are they prepared to go in order to be “fully inclusive?”
Can a female employee request a tummy tuck because her transgender co-worker got a boob job?
How about hair extensions? Liposuction surgery? How about a celebrity nose job?
The line between essential benefits and elective benefits has been crossed and it could cause a lot of headaches for the company down the road.
And it could make a $6 cup of coffee, which is already too expensive, a $10 cup of coffee if the program is widely used. Who knows?
That’s not to mention the headaches Starbucks has today, as many potential or former customers are not happy with the announcement of these pro-transgender benefits.
“I will never go there again! My hard earned money will not supply treatments I disagree with,” one Twitter user wrote.
I will never go there again! My hard earned money will not supply treatments I disagree with.
— Carolyn Brockman (@Nonniebrockman) July 12, 2018
“I see another increase in their already over priced beverages,” another tweeted.
I see another increase in their already over priced beverages.
— jerzegurl (@jerzegurl) July 11, 2018
According to a 2016 survey by the Williams Institute on Sexuality and Orientation a the University of California, Los Angeles, about 0.6 percent of the United States population identifies as transgender.
Of that 0.6 percent, how many are working at Starbucks? No telling, but I’m sure we could add a few more zeros between the decimal and the “6.”
It’s amazing that Starbucks is willing to risk losing so many customers in order to make a political statement that truly affects so few.
But it’s 2019 — and catering to very small minority groups at the expense of the majority seems to be the hip way to run a business these days.
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