Starbucks, which enjoys a positive reputation for relatively progressive labor practices, apparently still has work to do. This recent NY Times piece (“Starbucks Falls Short After Pledging Better Labor Practices”) outlines where the company hasn’t fulfilled its promises.

More importantly, the article highlights the pressures that low-level managers are under. This, in our view, is where good intentions meet harsh realities, and how companies fail to improve their practices. They neglect to re-align the metrics on which these managers are judged, sabotaging change efforts. So when store managers are forced to choose between doing the right thing and avoiding pain from upstairs, no guesses needed in predicting what will happen.

We put this squarely on the executives, including Howard Schulz at Starbucks. Given, for example, that Starbucks is using sophisticated scheduling software from Kronos, a “clopen” (a worker having to close the store late at night and then open it early the next morning) should never happen. The software can simply prevent it.

But, for some reason, clopens still happen. So it’s difficult to simply accept “we still have some work to do.”