In an effort to change the corporate culture which has resulted in the unjustified arrests of two Black men in a Philadelphia store, Starbucks will be closing some 8,000 stores for mandatory bias training. As many as 175,000 employees on all levels will undergo the training which kicks off on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29, 2018.
CNN reported that CEO Kevin Johnson, Chairman of the Board Howard Schultz, and rapper/actor Common will virtually facilitate the training. Each store has been shipped a toolkit to use during the initial session which will teach employees about bias and the history of race and discrimination in America. Johnson has vowed to not only mandate ongoing training, he has decided to make the instruction available to the general public.
“Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores,” Starbucks executive Rossan Williams told employees in a company communication last week.
Johnson said that the training is one component of the changes that he plans to institute. After the arrests for trespassing occurred, the CEO reached out to the two men and apologized for the incident. The company has since changed its rule requiring patrons to make a purchase before using Starbucks bathrooms and/or using a table for work or recreation.
Employees will still be required to monitor customer activity to ensure that patrons are not being unruly, disruptive, or engaging in offensive behavior. They will be charged to use the skills that they will develop during the company anti-bias training to determine how to handle challenging situations. If they are unable to control the environment, employees will still be expected to call the police. The decision to do so must be based on factors other than race.
Other factors that may lead to a customer being asked to leave a Starbucks store include sleeping, poor hygiene, smoking, using drugs and alcohol, using the restrooms inappropriately, and disturbing the peace. Employees will also be charged with ensuring the safety of all customers and employees.
Johnson said after the April 2018 incident that he was “going to fix” the problem. He deemed the Philadelphia store manager’s decision to call the police “completely inappropriate.” Johnson was to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in a Starbucks store.
“The circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome in our store on Thursday were reprehensible, they were wrong,” Johnson told Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts last month. “And for that, I personally apologize to the two gentlemen who visited our store.”