Starbucks CEO says he’ll work a shift at the company’s cafes once a month

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Laxman Narasimhan, incoming Starbucks CEO, Sept. 7, 2022.

Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan told employees Thursday that he’ll work a half day every month at one of the coffee giant’s locations.

Narasimhan took the helm on Monday and will lead the company’s shareholder meeting Thursday. He joined Starbucks in October, spending months learning the business. That included 40 hours of barista training and donning the baristas’ iconic green apron.

But he’s not hanging up the apron just yet.

“To keep us close to the culture and our customers, as well as to our challenges and opportunities, I intend to continue working in stores for a half day each month, and I expect each member of the leadership team to also ensure our support centers stay connected and engaged in the realities of our stores for discussion and improvement,” he wrote in a letter to employees Thursday morning.

His pledge comes at a rocky time for the company’s relationship with its baristas. As of Friday, more than 190 company-owned Starbucks locations have voted to unionize, according to National Labor Relations Board data. Workers have cited unsafe working conditions, understaffing and unreliable scheduling as some of the reasons why they’re in favor of a union.

Before joining Starbucks, Narasimhan was chief executive of Reckitt, which owns brands like Lysol and Durex. Previously, he worked at PepsiCo and McKinsey.

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