Starbucks' Head of Talent Acquisition Urges Recruiters to Recognize Their Power to Lead Change

October 27, 2016

When John Phillips, the Head of Talent Acquisition at Starbucks, looks at his recruiting team he doesn’t see a group of people who are there to just find the world’s best talent and bring them inside the company. He sees a group of people who are there to lead change.

This may sound lofty, but it’s part of a very conscious effort companies like Starbucks are making to balance profit and social impact (or purpose, as it’s often called).

We can’t just be bystanders to what’s going on in the world…you turn on the TV and you see a fractured level of humanity out there…and we need to figure out what is our role and responsibility in that,” shared Phillips.

For him, this philosophy of making a difference in the world is not something that only large enterprises like Starbucks can afford to subscribe to. Every recruiter from any size business can make a difference.

Recruiters are the gatekeepers to the talent that comes into the company and Phillips advises that they use this power to affect the larger societal issues. This can mean, for example, taking a step back and examining your own hiring practices – have you shown bias when sourcing candidates? If the answer is yes, then changing that and working with hiring teams and executives to open the door to more diverse talent will not only positively affect your company but society as a whole.

To dive deeper into what social impact means for Starbucks and its recruiting team, Phillips recently joined our newly launched Talent on Tap interview series, led by LinkedIn's CHRO Pat Wadors and Head of Talent Brendan Browne:

Whether it’s investing in your employees’ academic achievement, or providing bridges into your organization to those who may not have the traditional academic background, it ultimately comes down to humanity.

As talent professionals, we have responsibilities to hire and retain top talent in our organizations, but also we have the responsibility to help break down larger societal issues. Youth unemployment and restricted access to educational opportunity prevent individuals from being able to reach their full potential. Talent professionals and leaders can chip away at those obstacles by taking a chance on different talent and investing in the well-being and development of the members of their organization.  

Talent on Tap is a weekly series where Pat Wadors and Brendan Browne break down some of the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space. Stay tuned each week for the latest.

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