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Sandra Taylor    

Former Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Starbucks and Founder and CEO of Sustainable Business International

"I think it's important to know what the product is, who is making it, even knowing what the conditions are like in the factory. I want to know if there's a way to make this product that is more ethical, more environmentally responsible -- I think that is a better way to start than beginning solely with philanthropy and giving back." Sandra Taylor

Businesses today are scrambling to meet the demands of the "Green Revolution," and, specifically, the recent push for greater Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), while still improving growth on the bottom line. As Starbucks' senior vice president of CSR from 2003-2008, Sandra Taylor turned one of the world's most successful corporations into one of the most progressive. Whether supporting disaster relief, overseeing the Starbucks Foundation, implementing sustainability standards, or designing social investment programs all over the world, she helped transform the world's leading coffee retailer into a shining beacon of not only performance and profits, but also for socially responsible business. Represented exclusively by Leading Authorities, Sandra Taylor explains how compassion, conscience, and altruism can lead to innovation, transformation, and in the end, better business. Corporate Social Responsibility has no stronger, bolder, or more fervent advocate.

Bold Coffee, Bold Practices. In addition to leading all the CSR programs at Starbucks, she launched the company's ground-breaking coffee-buying guidelines--Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices--paying premium prices for high-quality coffee to some of the world's poorest coffee farmers. Taylor's innovations helped protect the environment, preserve biodiversity, and provide social improvements for the local communities. She also designed and led social investment programs for education, health, income generation, skills training, and access to clean drinking water in Central America, India and Africa. It's not surprising that she was responsible for the company's award-winning CSR annual report.

Sustainability Starts at the Top. Taylor is currently president and CEO of Sustainable Business International LLC, a consulting business she launched in February 2008. Prior to her role at Starbucks, Taylor served as vice president and director of public affairs for Eastman Kodak Company.  As a corporate officer, she had overall responsibility for public affairs, international trade policy, and corporate citizenship worldwide. Taylor has held several senior leadership positions at top-tier organizations such as ICI Americas Inc., the American branch of Imperial Chemical Industries Plc. (a London-based chemical company), and was a legislative assistant in the United States Senate. She also worked as a foreign service officer for the United States Department of State. She sits on the board of directors of the National Center for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and she is the co-chair and founder of the American and African Businesswomen's Alliance (AABWA), to name only a few. Sandra Taylor is truly an executive who is working to make the world a better place, from the top down.

Speech Topics


Philanthropy: Corporate Giving and Community Engagement.

In this presentation, Sandra Taylor explains how organizations can focus their giving in a way that makes a difference, creating a more inclusive society. Rather than writing checks to various philanthropic groups, Taylor teaches audiences how an organization can make a larger commitment and a greater impact. Taylor stresses the importance of community engagement to develop a mutually beneficial relationship within the organization’s community – of customers, employees, neighbors, officials, and community leaders. Job creation that fosters engaged, prosperous communities helps break the cycle of poverty and underpins business success. Community investments by business can contribute to the fight against poverty, benefitting both society and business. She explains the reasoning behind understanding the community’s opinions of the organization and helps brand the giving in a way that helps them understand the mission. She also encourages regular dialogues with stakeholders to maintain healthy communication and commitment to the purpose.

Making the Business Case for CSR.

Whether your organization is trying to break into Corporate Responsibility (CR) or already has experience with it, you will benefit from Sandra Taylor’s rich background. The former SVP of CSR for Starbucks outlines the key steps to putting into place a thorough model for integrating sustainability into your business strategy. She educates audiences on how to position the organization as a leader in environmental practices, beyond simply abiding by environmental regulations and putting in place a plan to reduce the company’s environmental footprint – whether that relates to climate change and less greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of energy use, or waste reduction and recycling. She emphasizes the importance of corporate philanthropy exceeding monetary donations and how to proactively build goodwill in communities. She explains the fundamentals of sustainability and examines the intricacies of the group’s supply chain to better understand all practices and how they can be incorporated into a successful CSR model. Finally, Taylor teaches how an organization can take steps to attract and retain employees as part of their overall CSR model.

Sustainability and Wine.

The wine industry has lagged behind others when it comes to sustainability. With an MBA in wine management from the prestigious Bordeaux School of Management and currently researching a book on sustainability in the wine supply chain, Taylor applies lessons learned from the coffee industry to show why sustainability matters and how it makes good business sense. She shares insights on:

  • Why the food industry is so far ahead and what wine producers can do to catch up
  • Lessons from the coffee industry in organics, sustainable agriculture, ethics and consumer education
  • Early signs of progress – examples of best practice sustainability initiatives in key wine growing regions
  • Social and corporate responsibility – the confluence of sustainability and ethics – and why both matter
  • Who’s calling the sustainability shots in the wine industry supply chain – potential for partnership or conflict between producers and retailers

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