(Black PR Wire) PHILADELPHIA – Starbucks announced it will be closing its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in its stores.
This on the heels of an incident involving the arrest of two African-American real estate professionals inside of a Philadelphia Starbucks. The arrest, captured on video, sparked nationwide condemnation and led to calls of boycott. Starbucks leadership has since apologized and called the incident “reprehensible.” The manager who called police to the store is no longer employed by Starbucks.
The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 employees across the country and will become part of the onboarding process for new hires.
“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.”
Employees 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 Johnson 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 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
Once completed, the company will make the education materials available to other companies.