Later this month, Starbucks will conduct a massive diversity training session which the company believes will help to address issues that arise when confronting minority customers. The company revealed that it “will close all 8,000 of its company-owned stores in the U.S. on May 29 to train employees in an effort to prevent racial discrimination in its stores.”
“This action comes in the aftermath of the arrest on April 12 of two black men who were sitting in a Philadelphia store.” The arrest led to a huge boycott of Starbucks and a public apology from CEO Kevin Johnson to the two men arrested.
The concern from Starbucks about its public persona is warranted. The company has a history of avoiding areas with large populations of minorities and is often seen as an upscale suburban coffee shop. The most recent issue is one that may push the company towards new business practices. While I am skeptical of the outcome of the training session, I do support the reasoning behind it.
On the afternoon of May 29, some 175,000 Starbucks employees in 8,000 U.S. stores will undergo the training to address “implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion and prevent discrimination,” according to the company. This message now becomes part of new-hire training.