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See which Starbucks stores are closing Tuesday afternoon for bias training

29 May, 2018, 18:40 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • 11 2018 A sign for Starbucks is seen on a street in New York City. Hector Retamal. AFP

Starbucks will close 8,000 of its USA locations for a portion of the afternoon on May 29, with over 175,000 of its employees undergoing racial bias training.

The chain was criticised last month when two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend at one of its stores in Philadelphia.

Employees at these stores around the country will participate in a program that will include videos of top Starbucks executives and board members speaking to the importance of diversity and improving as a company.

The plan covers only Starbucks-operated stores; almost all of the 7,000 Starbucks-licensed coffee shops - in places like supermarkets, hotels, and airports - are likely to remain open, the company says. Workers at each location will break into small groups to learn together.

Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, the architect of its move into a cafe format in the late 1980s, said in an open letter that the decision to call police and their subsequent arrests "were reprehensible and did not represent the company's mission and enduring values".

"We know that one day of training will not stop bias or solve racism", a company spokesperson told MONEY in an email.

More trainings will follow, although it's unclear if stores will close for those sessions again.

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Starbucks has also implemented a new policy allowing anyone, whether or not they have made a purchase, to spend time in a store or use the restroom. According to documents Starbucks sent to store workers, employees should also think carefully when dealing with disruptive customers.

Within two minutes after entering the store, the manager called 911 and police officers arrested the men for trespassing and walked them out of the store in handcuffs when they refused requests to leave. After May 29, the company will make the curriculum available to the public and share it with the regions as well their licensed and business partners.

Many retailers including Walmart and Target said they already offer some racial bias training. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer and respectfully ask him or her to cease the offensive action while another employee watches.

There's a reason why you won't be able to get your afternoon pick-me-up from Starbucks on Tuesday.

As for her role in the training, Ifill said her goal was to ensure "that what they do undertake is rigorous and is likely to produce real results".

The company said it will release training materials to the public next week, so others can use it.

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