Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for racial bias training

Move ‘is just one step in a journey that requires dedication,’ says coffee chain’s CEO
WASHINGTON: Starbucks will close all of its over 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon dedicated to racial bias training, the coffee company announced Tuesday amid an uproar.
The shutdown of Starbucks’ company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will take place on May 29 in order to train 175,000 employees on how to spot “unconscious bias” after two black men were arrested at one of its stores over the weekend.
The arrests occurred after the men asked to use the restroom at a Philadelphia location, but a Starbucks employee refused to grant them access because they had not purchased anything and eventually asked them to leave before calling police.
The men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, but prosecutors have declined to pursue the charges due to a lack of evidence.
The incident has prompted widespread outrage, and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said his company is “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,” he said in a statement.
Johnson has since met with the arrested men and offered an apology on behalf of Starbucks, according to the company.
Starbucks has long sought to portray itself as a leading socially-conscious corporation, and this weekend’s incident has dealt that effort a major blow.
The company was met with public ridicule in 2015 after it urged its employees to write “Race Together” on its coffee cups in a bid to start a national conversation on race.
The forthcoming training will address “implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome”, the company said.–AA

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