An Interview with Matthew Swaya of Starbucks

Interviewed By Ethisphere

Ethisphere sat down with Matthew Swaya to learn more about what the Starbucks brand means and how it maintains an ethical culture.

E: What differentiates your company from the rest of the industry when it comes to ethics and compliance?

MS: We all excel in different areas. Throughout our history, Starbucks has embedded acting ethically as a cornerstone to our culture and to how we work every day. Our partners (employees) are passionate about doing business the right way and it shows through the way we treat each other, our customers, business partners and communities.

E: What keeps you motivated?

MS: Our partners. They reside at the core of our company and our culture. Providing a great work environment supports our partners in upholding the values essential to our company’s success. We also symbolize good in our communities—whether it is through providing a gathering place and refuge or through community service and ethics.

E: How does ethical behavior — both from the company and individual employees — impact the Starbucks brand?

MS: Ethical behavior from both the company and our partners has a fundamental impact on our brand. Treating each other with respect and dignity is at the very core of our culture and our mission, shaping the way we are viewed as a brand. It informs how we behave as a company and gives us a sense of responsibility. It also is meaningful to our customers to support a company with such a strong sense of responsibility.

E: What about your brand do you think encourages people to choose Starbucks over competitors?

MS: We recognize that our customers are making a choice when they walk into one of our stores. They tend to be as passionate about our products and our brand as we are. We try to engage our customers and encourage them to share their ideas, giving them a role in shaping Starbucks’ future. Our partners are passionate about their work and they do their best to meet the needs of our customers and give them a sense of community and belonging.

E: Can you ever meet “success” in establishing a brand, or is it an ongoing process?

MS: I think you can achieve success in establishing a brand, but continuing or building on that success is an ongoing process. A brand doesn’t live in a vacuum and must be nurtured to maintain any degree of success. We are always striving to be better and to stay relevant.

Expert Biography

Matthew Swaya is Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Starbucks.