Starbucks to close shops for racial bias training
Earlier this week, Starbucks announced that it would close all 8,000 of its company-operated stores in the U.S. on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a training session intended to prevent racial discrimination in its stores. The announcement follows an incident in Philadelphia last week when a manager called police to remove two black men who were waiting in the store for a third person to show up for a business meeting. Protests condemning Starbucks quickly sprung up. The company apologized for the incident.
Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz told “CBS This Morning” that he first saw the video of the two men being arrested on Friday. “I couldn’t believe it. I was sick to my stomach. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. This is the antithesis of the values and culture and everything Starbucks stands for.”
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, in a statement. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
The coffee chain’s racial bias training program, which will be provided to all 175,000 of its employees and become part of its “onboarding process” for all new hires, is being developed with guidance from experts, including: Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. The program is intended to “address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
DeRay McKesson, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, told MSNBC that he was “hopeful” that Starbucks training program would bring improvement, but that it could solve many of its issues in the recruitment process.
“What would it mean to hire people who already believe in this stuff and don’t need training, right?” Mr. McKesson said. “Like having a pipeline of managers and people who make decisions who already understand equity. Not everyone needs to be trained on this because some people live it every day and understand the issues really well. That’s part of the structural change.”
- Starbucks to Close All Stores Nationwide for Racial-Bias Training on May 29 – Starbucks Coffee Company
- Starbucks CEO meets with men arrested in viral video – The Associated Press/CBS News
- Starbucks’ Howard Schultz “ashamed” after controversial arrest of 2 black men – CBS News
- DeRay McKesson on Starbucks Controversy: ‘We can’t let the police off the hook’ – MSNBC
- Starbucks gets scalded with response to #RaceTogether campaign – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see eliminating the type of problem that occurred at Starbucks in Philadelphia being more of a recruitment or training issue? How well would you say most retail industry employers are doing in addressing implicit bias, promoting conscious inclusion and preventing discrimination within their businesses?