Starbucks to close all U.S. stores for an afternoon of racial-bias training
Starbucks announced it plans to close its 8,000 company-owned stores on the afternoon of May 29 to administer racial-bias training to all staff members and employees.
The decision comes in response to two recent incidents that raised accusations of racial discrimination exhibited by Starbucks employees.
On April 12, a video posted to Twitter by Philadelphia resident Melissa DePino showed two black men being arrested and escorted out of a Starbucks in handcuffs. According to reports, the police were called because the men were sitting in the coffeeshop and hadn’t ordered anything, but according to the men they were waiting for a friend.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
After the incident upset many customers, Starbucks issued a three-sentence apology on social media, which received even more backlash.
While many grew outraged over the arrest, claiming the police were called on the two men simply because of their race, another video showing a black man being denied access to a restroom in a southern California Starbucks began to circulate.
Activist Shaun King shared the upsetting video taken by Brandon Ward to Twitter on Monday. In the footage, Ward claimed he was denied access to the restroom because he hadn’t purchased anything from the coffeeshop, yet spoke with a white man who also hadn’t purchased anything and had been being given the restroom code.
“Here we go again,” King captioned the video. “RACISM.”
Here we go again.
Meet Brandon Ward. He was @Starbucks – about to make a purchase – and needed to use the restroom.
They denied him the code.
He then finds a white man, Weston, who came out of the restroom.
He had not made a purchase but they gave HIM the code.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 16, 2018
As a follow-up to the Philadelphia Starbucks arrests, CEO Kevin Johnson issued a formal apology video vowing, “I will fix this.”
“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,” Johnson said in a statement. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a 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 training, which nearly 175,000 employees will receive, will be geared toward preventing discrimination, promoting inclusion, and ensuring people feel welcome at Starbucks locations nationwide. Experts such as 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, will also work to help develop the curriculum.
The company plans to make the racial-bias education part of the general on-boarding process for new employees, and make training materials available to other companies, as well.