Starbucks closing for racial bias training

30 May, 2018, 05:56 | Author: Billie Castillo
  • 11 2018 A sign for Starbucks is seen on a street in New York City. Hector Retamal. AFP

Starbucks chose to close its more than 8,000 locations for the training after an April incident at a Philadelphia store where a worker called police on two black men who were waiting for a friend and asked to use the restroom. "It turned out to be a great thing because we gave back to a local business and got out of our normal routine, and I can honestly say now that I have a new favorite place in this town to drink coffee".

Starbucks also has about 7,000 other stores that won't be closing.

Starbucks has said the instruction will become part of how it trains all its workers.

Even with the training, however, Sarah Gaither, a Duke assistant professor of psychology, expressed doubt that the company's effort would be enough.

Starbucks tapped several experts and researchers to help develop the curriculum, including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos.

"The work that we want to do is not say you're a bad person because you have a stereotype about a group, but say this is why your brain may have these stereotypes", she said.

Starbucks could lose up to $12 million when it shutters its US stores for the afternoon on Tuesday, Sharon Zackfia, a partner at investment banking firm William Blair, told USA Today.

A sign is seen at a closed Starbucks coffee shop after the closure of 8,000 company owned American stores on Tuesday as a first step in training 175,000 employees on racial tolerance in Manhattan, New York, US, May 29, 2018.

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American Airlines announced past year that it would train 120,000 employees after the civil rights group NAACP warned against "a pattern of disturbing incidents" reported by African-American passengers specific to the company.

Starbucks said it also plans to hold training at its stores in other countries. "It's been addressed", she said. They were arrested by police minutes after they sat down to await a business meeting.

According to financial reports, Starbucks is said to lose more than $12 million in profit as more than 8,000 company-owned locations and its corporate office will cease operation temporarily. The men were waiting for a friend at a Starbucks location and had not made a purchase.

With independent cafes proliferating and powerful rivals making assertive moves into the coffee business it dominates, analysts said Starbucks can not afford bad publicity. But she said Perception's workshops typically include mental exercises to show participants how bias creeps into situations.

Starbucks reached an undisclosed settlement with the men who were arrested, and offered them a free college education.

Robinson and Nelson also accepted a symbolic, $1 compensation from the city of Philadelphia, alongside a promise from city officials to create a $200,000 young entrepreneurs program. The training will focus on understanding racial bias and the history of public spaces.

He said he thinks the racial bias training is, "a gesture that is one of good will, one that will ensure that they are trying to do right by their customers".


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