Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
Business Ethics


Business EthicsIntroduction

This image shows the inside of a Starbucks Coffee store.
Figure 3.1 Starbucks, based in Seattle, Washington, is a company with more than 250,000 employees and locations across the globe. It directly affects countless stakeholders beyond its institutional investors and millions of customers, from coffee growers and milk producers, to urban and suburban communities and developers, to local, state, and national governments. (credit: modification of “StarbucksVaughanMills” by “Raysonho”/Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

In May 2018, in the wake of a global uproar after two Black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks were arrested while awaiting a friend, Starbucks closed its approximately eight thousand U.S. stores to conduct racial bias training (Figure 3.1).1 The company also officially changed its policy to allow people to visit its stores and restrooms without making a purchase, hoping to avoid more incidents like this one (sparked by a White employee calling 9-1-1 when the men did not buy anything). The two men who were arrested eventually settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum.

As one of the largest beverage retailers in the world, Starbucks directly affects countless stakeholders: food and drink distributors; coffee and tea growers; milk producers; urban and suburban communities; local, state, and national governments; more than 300,000 employees and 1,600 institutional investors; and millions of customers.2 The company’s decision to close its U.S. stores for half a day was financially costly, and the training session could never fully solve the problem of conscious or unconscious bias. But the firm believed it was the right thing to do. Why does it matter to its stakeholders what Starbucks does? What role do stakeholders play in a company’s decisions about its ethical behavior, and why?

Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Mar 31, 2023 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.