Starbucks is feeling the heat after two black men were racially profiled and arrested in a Philadelphia location last week. The viral video spawned the #BoyCottStarbucks hashtag and put the coffee giant under increased scrutiny over its treatment of black customers. After issuing a formal apology, Starbucks has decided to go a step further and educate employees on racism, the company announced Tuesday (April 17).
On May 29, Starbucks will close all U.S. stores for a “racial bias education” training, which will apply to nearly 175,000 employees. The curriculum will be constructed with the guidance of “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; and Heather McGhee, president of public policy organization, Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
“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,” Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
Starbucks founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz added, “The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion. We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”
The daylong training will also be available for other companies to use and is designed to “address racial bias” as well as “promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination” and ensure that everyone inside of a Starbucks “feels safe and welcome.”