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Starbucks to close stores to offer racial-bias training

Starbucks to close stores to offer racial-bias training

business-cafe-coffee-291539More than 8,000 stores owned by Starbucks, including several in Monroe County, will be closed the afternoon of May 29 to engage in racial bias education prompted by a racial incident at a Philadelphia store last week.

According to national media reports, the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks store called the police and asked them to remove two black “trespassers,” who were just two men waiting to meet another man at the store. Their friend arrived in time to see them being taken out in handcuffs. A video of the incident went viral and prompted calls on social media to boycott Starbucks stores. The staff apparently told the men they couldn’t be there unless they ordered something. Police later released the men without charging them.

“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,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “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.”

Johnson met with the two men who were arrested and apologized to them.

Starbucks’ executive chairman, Howard Schultz, added, “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”

Licensed Starbucks stores, such as those inside Target stores or Barnes and Noble stores, are not owned by Starbucks. The same is true for the Starbucks inside the Hyatt Regency Rochester hotel  downtown.

The company said curriculum for the training will be developed by national leaders on the subject including:

  • 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
  • Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

The company said it has begun reviewing its policies and practices to make sure they adhere to Starbucks’ principles for inclusion. Additionally, employees hired from now on will undergo the racial bias training developed for the May 29 event. The stores employ nearly 175,000 workers.

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