Forums and blogs from around the country (and even Japan) have picked up the story and despite the fact that I only reported Mills’ side of the events, most of the sentiment has been less than favorable to Starbucks.
Today I got a call from Starbucks’ Director of Corporate Communications, Valerie O’Neil. Ms. O’Neil was concerned that the Internet buzz was unfairly portraying the situation and she wanted to know what Starbucks could do to set the record straight.
O’Neil followed up our conversation with the following prepared statement (published in its entirety, with emphasis added by me):
“Recently, comments were made online about an incident which occurred between a Starbucks district manager and store manager Fabian Mills in Portland, Ore. regarding his bicycling to work. The portrayal of this exchange as presented by Mr. Mills in this online article is false. The concerns raised by the district manager were regarding Mr. Mills’ arriving late to a meeting and being disheveled in appearance, not about his riding a bicycle to work.
Starbucks has a long history of supporting alternative transportation commute options for our partners (employees). Starbucks encourages partners to use alternative transportation; in fact, in 2005, 29 percent of our partners at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle participated in alternative commute programs, including bicycling to work. Additionally, Starbucks was the title sponsor of the Seattle Bike to Work Day 2006 in May.
Starbucks hosts a Biking Club as part of Partner Connections, a program designed to encourage partners to participate in activities outside of the everyday work environment. This Biking Club also encourages partners to ride their bicycles to work.
In Oregon, Starbucks is a regular sponsor of Providence Bridge Pedal, Portland’s annual community cycling event. Starbucks has also worked with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) to encourage and reward residents who cycle as an alternative means of transportation, including Starbucks partners.”
I respect and appreciate that Starbucks has gone beyond their usual policy and directly addressed the situation in order to add some important details to the story.