Will Starbucks anti-bias training for employees be effective?


The coffee chain is closing more than 8,000 stores nationwide for the training that stems from the arrest of two black men inside a Philadelphia Starbucks last month. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson also met with the two men in Philadelphia to apologize for the "reprehensible" incident, according to the company's spokesperson, who declined to disclose the details of the meeting.

Tuesday's four-hour session will give workers a primer on the history of civil rights from the 1960s to present day. The training includes a film about bias and will encourage employees to talk about their own experiences. The store confirmed that the Starbucks coffee shops in its stores will remain open on Tuesday and the staff here will be required to attend its own company biased training - rolled out in 2017 - in the future.

Of course, Starbucks competitors, including Dunkin' Donuts, which has about 200 franchise stores on Long Island, and 7-Eleven, which has more than 100 stores here, will be open, as will local coffee shops. "This is just a sign that you that they want to get ahead of the problem", Varner said.

"I think a lot of people assume that a training, a lecture, a session, a brief exposure should be a good thing because it is better than nothing", she said.

Baristas at Starbucks will be discussing bias, not serving customers, on Tuesday afternoon. Last week, the company said the training session will be closed to the media.

Since footage of the arrest went viral, Starbucks has been grappling with its treatment of people of color and questions of unconscious racial bias at the chain.

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About 175,000 employees are taking part.

Nelson and Robinson settled with Starbucks this month for an undisclosed number. The NAACP's Sherrilyn Ifill, who is one of Starbucks's advisors on its anti-bias training material, has previously noted that "this can't be a one-off". "Starbucks' employees will continue to operate in an environment that reinforces racial disparities", they wrote.

Almost 175,000 workers will receive training in how to "address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome".

McGhee said one of her earliest memories as a black girl was being chased from a penny candy store by a white store manager.

"I'm glad to hear that they're doing it around the country", said customer, Cheri Quickmire.

"I don't think by closing down the stores it's going to change anything", said Yvonne Yandall.