Starbucks closes more than 8,000 U.S. cafes for racial bias training

01 June, 2018, 15:56 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Michelle Tyrene Johnson a reporter at KCUR in Kansas City conducted diversity and bias training for employers for more than 15 years

On Tuesday, however, the company-owned stores were closed so the firm's employees could participate in anti-bias training, a mandated session that resulted from a well publicized incident in Philadelphia in which police were called on two black customers who had asked to use the restroom.

More than 23 Starbucks company-owned stores in Sarasota and Manatee County vicinity will be closing, starting from 2 to 2:30 p.m. and remaining closed for the rest of the day, the company said.

For four hours today, more than 170,000 Starbucks employees will set aside the Frappuccinos and espresso machines to learn how to avoid the kind of racial bias that many say led to the arrests of two African-American men for occupying a table without making a purchase.

The move comes after a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called police in April on two black men who were sitting inside the shop waiting for a friend without ordering anything. Starbucks reached an undisclosed settlement with the men who were arrested, and offered them a free college education.

Starbucks has already made at least one change at the corporate level, revising its guest policy earlier this month.

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Starbucks gave a media preview of the session in NY in which Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said he considered the training necessary.

"We'll see you tomorrow" signs could be seen strewn up on the windows of the popular coffee chain.

The coffee chain is trying to tackle the issue of racial bias at thousands of its stores nationwide.

"I do feel like it is something that you can't teach someone", customer, Laasia Payne said.

About 175,000 employees are taking part.

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The 20-year-old Pawtucket resident said he agreed with the reason behind Starbucks' closing, though.

They'll also continue working with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, as well as representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and more to ensure the correct treatment of its customers.

While they don't have or have not undergone diversity training, she feels as long as everyone is treated the same, "with kindness, then we show kindness in return".

"What (Starbucks is) doing today- they're educating".

That segment is followed by a five-minute session in which workers pair off and discuss the question, "What makes me, me?" "After May 29, we will make the curriculum available to the public and share it with the regions as well as our licensed and business partners".

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