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Starbucks to temporarily shut cafes for bias training

19 April 2018

Chicaco Tribune - Starbucks has announced plans to close all US stores and corporate offices on the afternoon of May 29 to train employees against racial bias after the arrest last week of two black men waiting at one of the company's Philadelphia stores.

The woman who called police was reportedly the manager of the store. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson apologized for the arrests, calling them a "reprehensible outcome", and vowed to better train employees.

Police declined to press trespassing charges against the men that were later released.

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The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias.

The announcement from world's biggest coffee company comes as it tries to cool tensions after the Philadelphia incident last week sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain, which is the subject of a boycott campaign on social media.

The company said it would train almost 175,000 employees and require all new employees to undergo the same training.

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The incident has prompted widespread condemnation, protests, an apology from Starbucks' CEO and a plan to close all the US company-owned stores for an afternoon of racial-bias education. An employee informed them it was only meant for paid customers.

Schultz, the former CEO of the company, says that this training "will cost millions of dollars", but he considers this amount to be an investment, rather than an expense. Starbucks said its U.S. company-owned stores and corporate offices will be closed on the afternoon of 29 May for the training, which will eventually be incorporated into the instruction process for all newly-hired employees. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we're committed to making it right.

The experts will also review the effectiveness of the training, Starbucks said. Officials have said the officers were told the men had asked to use the store's restroom but were denied because they hadn't bought anything, and they refused to leave. Nonetheless, the closing of the stores in afternoon willl affect the company's sales on May 29.

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In addition, Sherrilyn Ifill, who is the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Jonathan Greenblatt, who is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League will help with the development of the training.

Starbucks to temporarily shut cafes for bias training