Starbucks stores to close Tuesday for anti-bias training

29 May, 2018, 18:36 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald during Question Time in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra Monday

Starbucks will close about 8,000 company-owned locations on Tuesday afternoon to offer 175,000 employees a mandatory anti-bias training.

The training is part of Starbucks' efforts to overhaul the company's image following the April arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia location. The Seattle-based chain will shutter its company-owned locations and corporate offices within the United States to train its almost 175,000 employees. Participating stores will close around 2 p.m.to 3 pm, local time.

The closings affect all company-operated stores but most of its licensed stores like those operating in airports and grocery stores will remain open.

But one Australian expert says the training - which will include a talk by the rapper Common - is unlikely to work. Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, Johnson and musician and activist Common will serve as virtual guides. Workers will also view a short documentary film. Police arrested the two men for trespassing, but they were later released without charges, leading Starbucks and police to publicly apologize. Because of the incident in Philadelphia, Starbucks now says anyone can use its spaces without making a purchase, including their restrooms.

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Alexis McGill Johnson, Perception's co-founder and executive director, said anti-bias training is about awareness.

"We determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons-versus anyone who enters a store-and bias led to the decision to call the police", he said. Almost 175,000 employees will participate in the diversity training program - a first step, the company said, in addressing issues of racial bias among its workforce after a high-profile incident in Philadelphia last month prompted massive backlash and public outcry. One of them asked to go to the bathroom but was denied access. Social scientists have said these kinds of systematic and structural changes can help make lasting changes and ensure similar instances of racial bias seldom occur at the retail coffee chain.

They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. If customers are disruptive, employees are advised to step in. "Starbucks' employees will continue to operate in an environment that reinforces racial disparities", they wrote.

Customers who are disappointed with the afternoon closures on May 29 should fret not.

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