Starbucks to close Tuesday afternoon for racial bias training

Daniel Fowler
May 29, 2018

A sign posted at a San Francisco store said the store would close at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and reopen at 5 a.m. Wednesday. From there, employees will "move into a real and honest exploration of bias" where, in small groups, they can share how the issue comes up in their daily work life. "It doesn't really seem to do much good on average for companies to offer diversity training because they say you can't really change people's inherent biases with a training session", Harvard sociology professor Frank Dobbin told TIME.

Starbucks advises employees to consider whether they'd be disturbed by the behavior in question if it was coming from a different customer. Robinson and Nelson settled with the city and received a symbolic $1 each, with the promise from local officials to set up a $200,000 scholarship program for young entrepreneurs.

Corporate America began to embrace anti-bias training after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. "The respect should always be there", said Michelle Nunez-Armenta who is a student at Treasure Island Job Corps Center where she took implicit bias training. Because of the incident in Philadelphia, Starbucks now says anyone can use its spaces without making a purchase, including their restrooms.

More than 8,000 Starbucks stores will shut down for a few hours Tuesday afternoon so that all employees can receive this training. Starbucks added that if employees see customers who are unreasonably loud, watching something inappropriate on a personal device or disrupting others with their personal hygiene, they should also step in.

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"I've seen other people just sit at places and no one bother them, so I thought it was very troubling to see someone just be sitting there, waiting for someone, and then have all that happen", Williams said.

"In some cases it can lead people who are kind of already reactive to these issues to become even more polarised", he told the Associated Press.

Starbucks tapped several experts and researchers to help develop the curriculum, including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos.

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