Yash Bhatia

Why Starbucks decided to narrate the story of its women partners

Deepa Krishnan, director – marketing, Tata Starbucks talks about the idea behind the women’s day campaign, concept of all women stores and more.

To mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, some brands rolled out campaigns featuring their respective female ambassadors. They’re seen narrating stories of their resilience or ability to overcome challenges. 

To commemorate Women’s Day, Tata Starbucks launched a campaign, titled #StrongLikeCoffee, which features the journeys of its female partners.

Talking to afaqs! about the campaign’s insight, Deepa Krishnan, director – marketing, Tata Starbucks, says, “All their lives, women are told what to do, what not to do, how to do it and how not to do it. Somewhere, women have reached a stage where they’e just fed up by all this and are tapping their own inner strength. They know they’re strong. #StrongLikeCoffee is a celebration of that spirit.”

Krishnan explains the idea of showcasing the journey of the company’s female partners. “To look more authentic, we decided to look at the stories of inspiring women within the company, and celebrate them. There are so many stories. We have 3,500 partners, out of which, 40% are women. We chose to put the spotlight on two of our female partners, who’ve overcome all the odds.”

The two female partners were selected through the brand’s internal setup. The company has an internal platform called ‘workplace’, where the female partners post their stories, including the support they get from their male/female co-workers. 

“The stories are selected on the basis of whether they break some kind of barrier, or not. One of the stories is of ‘Sneha’, who’s an all-women store manager. There were initially some doubts over how she’ll manage sales/inventory accounts. There were questions around how she will go back home. So, we, as an organisation, jumped in by ensuring that all our female partners are dropped back home by us,” Krishnan shares.

“The other story was that of ‘Yaksh Shree’, a coffee ambassador who rose through the ranks. We, as a coffee company, put the spotlight on her. We showcased the journey of her representing India at various competitions.” 

All-women stores

Tata Starbucks has a total of 20 all-women stores across India. The stores are entirely operated by women. The first such store was inaugurated at Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi. 

Is the store different from a regular store? Krishnan responds, “They are the same as regular stores. We want to ensure that the same experience is given by every Starbucks store, irrespective of gender.”

All-women stores are mostly present in metro cities. But the brand is looking to open more such stores.

Talking about the hiring process, Krishnan says, “The women are chosen from our barista/store manager/shift supervisor pool. Any woman, who wishes to be a part of this setup, is given the opportunity and then trained extensively.”

On the partner-led Starbucks Women’s Impact Network that was created to provide an inclusive community and safe space, Krishnan mentions, “It’s a platform for sharing, learning, and also providing mentorship.”

“The reason that such initiatives are successful, is because our male partners are ‘champions’. They’re strong allies in the entire process.”

On the challenges she’s faced as a female leader in the corporate world, Krishnan shares, “I really haven’t faced any challenges where I felt that I could not do something because I’m a woman. Others may have thought that I couldn’t do something because I’m a woman, but I just brushed it aside. I believe that you can prove your metal by constantly learning, being curious and adding value.” 

On how organisations can promote gender diversity and ensure equal opportunities for all employees, she mentions, “Organisations should recognise the disparity first and then correct it. Every working woman doesn’t have access to infrastructure. So, organisations must build infrastructure to support their journey.”

Krishnan’s advice to young women, who’re aspiring for leadership positions in the corporate world, is, “The biggest enemy is perfection. You don’t have to be perfect or 100% ready. You can learn things along the way.”

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