Starbucks is upping the ante (and perhaps trying to salvage whatever is left of its reputation) by closing more than 8,000 stores across the U.S. for an afternoon to train employees in racial bias.
The decision comes after two black men were arrested inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, seemingly just for being black.
According to the Washington Post, the training will occur on May 29 and will be provided to almost 175,000 employees at the coffee chain. The training will also be part of the onboarding process for any new employees who join the team.
“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,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a press release. “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 company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion,” added Executive Chairman Howard Schultz, who joined Johnson and other senior Starbucks leaders in Philadelphia. “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”
The release notes that the training will be developed under the guidance of several national and local experts, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League
The ubiquitous coffee chain came under fire over the weekend after video showed two black men being arrested at a Starbucks simply for being there. Outrage spread rapidly, bringing protests to the door of the Philadelphia location and prompting multiple apologies from Johnson.
The manager who called the police on the two innocent black men “is no longer at that store,” with reports indicating that the manager and the company parted ways based on a “mutual decision,” although Starbucks declined to provide details.