Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Money | By Bruce West

Starbucks anti-bias training to teach staff about stereotypes, civil rights movement

Starbucks anti-bias training to teach staff about stereotypes, civil rights movement

Weeks after a highly publicized incident in which two black men were arrested while waiting for a business meeting inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, the company will close thousands of stores on Tuesday, May 29, for racial-bias education.

Starbucks is closing its stores to conduct the training after the arrests of two black men in Philadelphia last month at one of its stores. The Seattle-based chain will shutter its company-owned locations and corporate offices within the United States to train its almost 175,000 employees.

Company-owned stores on Staten Island will be open until 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Most licensed stores, including those operated by hotels, grocery stores and airports, will operate normally.

A video previewing the training says it will include recorded remarks from Starbucks executives as well as rapper and activist Common.

"Well, I think like many people, it produced that same very familiar sinking feeling and anger, you know, first that the police were called for what was clearly a matter that did not require law enforcement, and then that these men were arrested by the police in that Starbucks".

On May 10, Howard Schultz, Starbucks' executive chairman and former CEO, said it had adopted a new restroom policy: "We don't want to become a public bathroom, but we're going to make the right decision 100 percent of the time and give people the key". And in the next few weeks, Ifill and McGhee will issue a report outlining a comprehensive set of issues they believe the company must address. "We've made it clear that we won't be a rubber stamp to validate their programming", McGhee said. The NAACP's Sherrilyn Ifill, who is one of Starbucks's advisors on its anti-bias training material, has previously noted that "this can't be a one-off".

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request to clarify whether Tuesday's training will offer more advice or training to employees on how to maintain the new policy.

"For several hours this afternoon, we will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome". If customers are disruptive, employees have been advised to step in. Starbucks added that customers could be asked to change their behavior if they are unreasonably loud, watching something inappropriate on a personal device or their personal hygiene disrupts others.

Johnson said the real work is for employees to apply what they learn in their everyday lives.

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