Earlier this week, Starbucks announced that its Seattle stores are now officially “Safe Places” for those members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Starbucks has partnered with the Seattle Police Department’s “Safe Place” program, and 97 of its stores in the area will conduct specific employee training on “how to respond to and engage with LGBT victims of violence and effectively report hate crimes to police.”
The Safe Place initiative was started by an openly gay Seattle Police Officer, Jim Ritter, and is a campaign against LGBT bias crimes. Since the spring, Officer Ritter has spoken with about 650 businesses across the Seattle area, all of whom have offered support for the campaign, including displaying rainbow-badge symbols in their windows.
Seattle is leading the nation in communal acceptance as the battle for LGBT rights across the country remains an uphill challenge.
Ritter told the Seattle Times that, “I haven’t been turned down by a single business. It is heartening and reinforces that people in Seattle get it and don’t support hate of any kind.”
Ritter is convinced that by Starbucks adopting the initiative, the Safe Place program will help “put bullies on notice that they can’t get away with victimizing people.”
Starbucks has demonstrated its support for the LGBT community in other ways lately by raising a gay pride flag at its headquarters in Seattle and airing a commercial showing contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Overall, American companies have increasingly supported LGBT rights. Approximately 379 companies filed briefs to the Supreme Court this spring supporting the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.
The Christian Science Monitor’s Harry Bruinius stated in March that, “American corporate capitalism has . . . become one of the nation’s most powerful drivers of the social changes that have led to a mainstream acceptance of homosexuality.”
Corporate consultant Farah Parker believes that a shift in consumer views on social issues has helped businesses become vocal. “Businesses can no longer remain completely silent on social issues. As more corporations strive to create communities and not just consumers, the target audience now picks products based on quality and the company's cultural platforms.”