OPERATIONS

Starbucks adds more benefits for transgender employees

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks Corp. has extended the benefits it offers transgender associates.

The coffee giant’s health insurance plans have offered coverage for gender reassignment surgery since 2012. On Monday, the retailer said it now also offering coverage for a host of procedures for transgender partners that were previously considered cosmetic, and therefore not covered, such as breast reduction or augmentation surgery, facial feminization, and more.

“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” said Ron Crawford, VP of benefits at Starbucks. “I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path.”

To develop the new benefits, Crawford and Alyssa Brock, Starbucks’ benefits director, reached out last year to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Starbucks was the first company in the world to ask WPATH to help translate their recommended standards of care into a medical benefits policy, said Jamison Green, the immediate past president of WPATH, who worked with the company on the benefits package.

“Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” said Green. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”

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Amazon to open first Alabama DC

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon continues to expand its vast fulfillment network.

The online giant announced plans for its first Alabama fulfillment center, in the city Bessemer, which will create 1,500 full-time jobs. The company currently operates a sortation center in Mobile, Alabama.

With its fulfillment center, Amazon is making the largest single private investment in the city of Bessemer’s 131-year history. The planned 855,000-sq.-ft. center will utilize advanced robotics technology from Amazon Robotics to “help employees complete jobs in a more efficient manner,” the company center.

Employees at the fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship small items to customers such as books, household items and toys.

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Dollar General jumps into self-checkout game

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Dollar General is letting some shoppers use their smartphones to pay for their order and skip the checkout line.

The discounter launched its DG Go! app, which allows customers to use their phones to scan items as they shop, and checkout directly through the app. The app, which was released in May, is available in Apple’s App store and on Google Play.

The app is being piloted in 10 stores in Nashville. However, Dollar General plans to roll it out to another 100 stores in the second quarter, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said during the company’s earnings call last month.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers use the app to scan each item. Digital coupons are automatically applied directly in the app, and shoppers receive alerts about potential savings on the items they are purchasing throughout the shopping trip. The app keeps a running total of the order, and users can pay directly by scanning a QR code at a dedicated checkout tablet at the front of the store.

Customers bag items at the checkout station. The order receipt is immediately available in the app, and also be sent to customers via email, according to the app’s description on Google Play.

“As we continue to develop this app, we intend to integrate more functionality to deliver an even more personalized shopping experience,” Vasos added.

Dollar General’s self-checkout expansion coincides with the company’s rapid growth plan. During the next 10 days for example, it is looking to fill management roles within its retail operations, distribution centers and corporate functions. These appointments will support Dollar General’s plan to open 900 stores in 2018.

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