How Starbucks' racial bias training went down

01 June 2018, 04:01 | Andres Norman

Michelle Tyrene Johnson a reporter at KCUR in Kansas City conducted diversity and bias training for employers for more than 15 years. Credit KCUR

Michelle Tyrene Johnson a reporter at KCUR in Kansas City conducted diversity and bias training for employers for more than 15 years

Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores in the USA for a program of anti-bias training for almost 175,000 employees, following the arrests last month of two African-American men in Philadelphia who had come to a Starbucks for a business meeting.

Today, on May 29, 2018, however, every single Starbucks will close its doors to customers at 2:30 p.m. local time for anti-bias training.

Starbucks announced the training after two black men were arrested in one of the company's Philadelphia cafes in April.

The men reached a legal settlement with the city of Philadelphia for the sum of $1, in addition to the promise of a $200,000 grant to fund a pilot program aimed at helping local high-schoolers become entrepreneurs. Starbucks leaders have since apologized, changed their policy, and met with the two men.

The company said it partnered with experts and advocates to create the curriculum employees will watch.

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A day after Starbucks closed more than 8,000 of its stores across the USA for racial bias training, The Daily Show released its own take on what the company's training video may have looked like.

In an open letter emailed to customers Tuesday morning, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said "Starbucks will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome". That's where the bias training comes in. (Starbucks also has 5,700 licensed stores across the country.) As for which stores will be closed and when on Tuesday, the company has hours posted on its website.

We also spoke to a Starbucks employee, who did not want to be identified. Starbucks said the training is the first step in establishing a foundation for "a longer-term Starbucks anti-bias, diversity, equity and inclusion effort". 'What we've said to our board, our shareholders, we are deeply committed to making this part of everything we do. Most shops inside grocery stores were remaining open as usual. "But I do think that it is always good to better educate and train the employees on how to deal with people in general", said Steve Mitcham, 62.

Wall Street analysts say the day of workshops in traditionally slow afternoon hours will cost Starbucks US$5-7 million in lost business. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing.

"I have to make sure that my hands are visible when I walk into certain places, so they make sure I'm not stealing", the man says.

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