Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) is closing shop on May 29. Across the U.S., the company will be closing the doors of more than 8,000 company-owned stores to conduct “racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores” and sensitize its employees on racial bias. The racial bias sensitization training will be provided to nearly 175,000 partners across the country. The company is committing to make it part of the onboarding process for all its new partners. The statement doesn’t specify if it will apply to its stores in Canada and to other continents.
The decision comes following the racial profiling and subsequent arrest of two black real estates brokers who were asked to leave the premise while they were waiting for a friend to discuss a business deal. The incident was filmed by another client and shared on Twitter and viewed millions of times. As reported by The Scope Weekly, Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO issued an apology and has asked to meet the two men arrested to discuss how to improve relations and avoid further racial profiling incidents.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re 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.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Addresses Starbucks Incidents
Following the arrest of two African American men at a downtown Starbucks in Philadelphia and a bathroom incident at a Torrance, California Starbucks, Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued a statement calling for better understanding of their business culture that would create such incidents.
Here is the statement from The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
“It is time to eliminate racism and discrimination that continues to infect every stage of our economy, root and branch. Federal, state and local laws across our country make clear that public accommodations like Starbucks must make their doors equally open to all on the basis of race. The decision by a Starbucks employee to call law enforcement in response to two African American men sitting in its store was unnecessary and action that could have proven deadly for these men. 50 years ago, peaceful demonstrators launched sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters and today we are still fighting to ensure that our public establishments are equally open to all.
It is vital that Starbucks understands the cultural climate in which they conduct business. Starbucks must undertake a meaningful overhaul of its policies, practices, and procedures to ensure an inclusive, safe, and respectful environment for its customers.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has requested a meeting with Mr. Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks, to discuss its plans for confronting this crisis and to help ensure that that the store fully eliminates and prevent future instances of discrimination inside its stores.”
The Starbucks curriculum has been developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
“The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion,” said executive chairman Howard Schultz, who joined Johnson and other senior Starbucks leaders in Philadelphia to meet with community leaders and Starbucks partners. “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”