Starbucks associates have a new leader to advocate for their labor needs and well-being.
Lucy Helm was named chief partner officer, a role she has been serving on an interim basis. As the chief partner lead she will head up the company’s Partner Resources Organization (PRO), an internal group that advocates for Starbucks associates across the enterprise worldwide, whether they work in the store, support center or Starbucks manufacturing plants.
An 18-year veteran at the company, Helm has held a variety of positions at Starbucks. Most recently, she spent the last five years as the company’s general counsel and is also a current member of Starbucks' senior leadership team. She also started the Starbucks Global Inclusion Council and has sponsored multiple Partner Networks, including the Women’s Development Network, Pride Network, and Access Alliance Network.
“Her commitment to diversity and pro bono work has made her a nationally recognized leader in the legal profession, and as head of PRO she will be an advocate for our partners worldwide,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ CEO.
Her appointment comes at a time when associates are reportedly feeling strained by an ongoing labor shortage. This sentiment makes it difficult to get associates to support a new initiative called North Star, a two-year plan designed to improve speed and customer service at its locations, according to CNBC.
According to reports, two issues are taking a toll on the chain’s labor. The first is the increasing volume of mobile orders. And the second revolves around limited edition beverage introductions — such as the highly publicized Unicorn Frappuccino. While these concoctions are introduced to drive engagement and sales, they are often complex and time-consuming to whip up — two factors further straining labor, according to CNBC.