Starbucks Closing Stores Across US For Anti-Bias Training

Mark Makela / Getty Images

Starbucks will be closing 8,000 stores around the country in order to facilitate anti-bias training initiatives, in a move the company hopes will help win back the trust of customers who have started to view the corporate brand with negativity.

Following the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, who were seemingly arrested for no reason at all save the color of their skin, media furor, and a public outcry spurred the company to action over concerns about racial biases. According to the New York Times, the two men have since reached a settlement with the company and city of Philadelphia, asking only for $1 each while the city spends some $200,000 to help young entrepreneurs on their route towards success.

Starbucks reached a private settlement with the two men in question, whereas the city of Philadelphia’s role in the matter was centered around the usage of city police officers to arrest the men, though no wrongdoing had been committed and local customers vouched for them before their arrest. In an attempt to calm an outraged public, Starbucks decided to close some 8,000 stores in order to institute anti-bias training, though experts contest how effective said training actually is.

According to the Harvard Business Review, for instance, diversity programs and racial-sensitivity training regimes in particular often fail, particularly if they’re not well-funded and facilitated by trained experts. Starbucks is nonetheless heading forward in an attempt to grant up to 180,000 employees at Starbucks stores and its corporate headquarters anti-bias training that it hopes will avert future situations like the one the two innocent black men in Philadelphia had to endure.

Starbucks anti-bias training comes into effect
  Mark Makela / Getty Images

Starbucks stores will be closed for roughly three hours to facilitate the training. According to a press release issued by Starbucks, the company intends to “focus on understanding prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States.” The company has also pledged to share its training practices and curriculum with other companies interested in additional diversity programs.

It’s likely executives are hoping the racial sensitivity training will help bolster their corporate brand; after all, the coffee company’s workplace reputation is at a 10-year-low, according to a YouGov initiative to test the public’s opinion on the coffee behemoth after the scandal. Diversity was once an important facet of the company’s recruitment, PR, and marketing efforts.