See which Starbucks stores are closing Tuesday afternoon for bias training

Dwayne Harmon
May 29, 2018

Starbucks will close 8,000 of its US locations for a portion of the afternoon on May 29, with over 175,000 of its employees undergoing racial bias training.

As a result, about 8,000 company-owned locations across the country will close early Tuesday. Most licensed shops, such as those in grocery stores or airports, will maintain normal hours.

Perception executive director Alexis McGill Johnson told Associated Press that the aim of anti-bias training is not to "say you're a bad person because you have a stereotype about a group, but say this is why your brain may have these stereotypes". Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, Johnson and musician and activist Common will serve as virtual guides.

Calvin Lai, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University, also says anti-bias training can sometimes backfire. Police arrested the two men for trespassing, but they were later released without charges, leading Starbucks and police to publicly apologize.

But not all Starbucks locations will close.

Ifill said that Starbucks management received a version of the bias training this week.

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She added, "We won't be a rubber stamp" that gives the all-clear on bias in stores and other locations.

"Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company", Schultz said in the letter.

Starbucks has already made some policy changes to address bias at the chain. If customers are disruptive, employees are advised to step in.

CNN Money reports that workers have been given specific guidelines by the company that lists inappropriate behaviors where employees should step in.

As part of the new policy, Starbucks wants its stores to be a warm and welcoming environment, allowing customers to gather and connect. They also will participate in discussion and problem-solving sessions on identifying and avoiding bias. The guidelines encourage workers to ask if they would take the considered action with any customer, to verify the perceived situation with a co-worker and to dial 911 if the situation becomes unsafe. The last time the company did something similar was in 2008, when the struggling chain shut down all USA locations to retrain employees on improving the "Starbucks Experience" by boosting technical abilities and customer service - a decision that cost the chain $6 million.

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