Starbucks said Tuesday it will be closing all of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. during the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program.
The announcement follows protests over the arrests of two black men who had asked to use a bathroom at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.
“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,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
Some 8,000 of the company’s U.S.-based locations will participate so that nearly 175,000 employees attend the training program that will address implicit bias, promote inclusion and help prevent discrimination.
“We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer,” Howard Schultz, executive chairman for the brand, said in a statement.
Starbucks will be working with 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 to create this program.
Once the company has completed this training at its company-owned locations it will make it available to its licensed partners.
Starbucks has been under fire after a video of the two black men being arrested Thursday at a Starbucks in Philadelphia went viral. The woman who posted the video said that staff at the coffee shop had called police because the men had not ordered anything while they waited for a friend to arrive. Starbucks said earlier this week that the manager of the shop was “no longer at that store.” (By Sarah Whitten, CNBC)