Caffeine alert: Starbucks will be closing all of its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on one afternoon in May to conduct racial-bias education, including all of its Austin shops.
According to a release from the company, the training will take place on May 29, and be provided to nearly 175,000 employees across the country.
The training is a response to an April 12 incident in Philadelphia when two black men were not allowed to use the restroom because they were not paying customers. The two men stayed in the store without buying anything and were arrested for trespassing, but were eventually released.
Another incident surfaced in Torrance, California, when a potential customer named Brandon Ward released a videotape of what he said was a similar encounter in January, and posted it on Twitter.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, chairman Howard Schultz, and other senior leaders went to Philadelphia to meet with community leaders and company partners.
"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," says Johnson in a release. "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."
The caffeine and free WiFi crisis will begin on the afternoon of May 29, when all Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed.
During that time, partners will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.
The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including 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.
Once completed, the company will make the education materials available to other companies, including licensee partners, for use with their employees and leadership.