Starbucks to close all US stores for racial bias training

Starbucks has announced it will close its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of 29 May to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination.

The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 employees across the country, and will become part of the on-boarding process for new employees, whom Starbucks calls partners.

The move comes after two black men were arrested and led from a Starbucks store in Philadelphia for trespassing, while waiting for a friend to arrive.

“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.”

All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29. During that time, partners will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.

“The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion,” said Executive Chairman Howard Schultz, who joined Kevin and other senior Starbucks leaders in Philadelphia to meet with community leaders and Starbucks partners. “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”

The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, 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 US Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Earlier this week, Starbucks began a review of its training and practices to make important reforms where necessary to ensure its stores always provide a safe and inclusive environment for its customers and partners.

Once completed, the company will make the education materials available to other companies, including its licensee partners, for use with their employees and leadership

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