Starbucks to close Tuesday afternoon for racial bias training

29 May, 2018, 18:35 | Author: Corey Lynch
  • READ MORE A new policy at Starbucks People can sit without buying anything

The mandatory sessions follow last month's controversial arrests of two black men in Philadelphia. In the New Orleans area, 25 of the 35 Starbucks sites will close at 2:30 p.m.

The closings affect all company-operated stores but most of its licensed stores like those operating in airports and grocery stores will remain open.

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

A store manager called the police because the two men were sitting in the store without placing an order.

The training is meant to help Starbucks navigate the challenges of being the "third place" that its leaders have often spoken about - the place where people spend time outside of work and their home. 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".

Even though it won't solve the entrenched issue of societal bias, the training will "get everyone bought into the idea that it's an important issue with the closure of the stores", said Oliver Cooke, head of recruitment firm Selby Jennings.




She added, "We won't be a rubber stamp" that gives the all-clear on bias in stores and other locations.

"Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores", Starbucks executive Rossan Williams told employees in a note on Wednesday.

Starbucks apologized for the incident, which sparked protests, online outrage, and calls for both clarifications of the chain's policies and for new training for its employees.

A guide advises staff to consider whether the actions they take would apply to any customer in the same situation. Starbucks is asking customers to behave in a way that "maintains a warm and welcoming environment".

Employees will participate in "small self-guided groups" to talk about racial bias and how race impacts them. It also suggests that they consult colleagues to see if they agree the person is being disruptive. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer, while another employee watches, and respectfully ask the customer to cease the offensive action.

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.

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