Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

Why are Starbucks closing?

Why are Starbucks closing?

The training is one of several steps Starbucks is taking after two black men were arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. A sign posted at a San Francisco store said the store would close at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and reopen at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Schultz, CEO Kevin Johnson and musician and activist Common will serve as virtual guides.

"What surprised me was the willingness of Starbucks to see the importance of creating a film that describes this issue as a broader civil rights issue", said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, on the conference call to talk about the training.

The company's massive closure for racial bias training was organized after the coffee giant came under fire after the arrests. Management called the police because the two men, who were meeting up with a friend, stayed in the store without making a purchase.

Starbucks inside Targets stores will be open for business on Tuesday, the retailer announced on its website. One of them asked to go to the bathroom but was denied access. Some 6,000 licensed Starbucks cafes will remain open in locations such as grocery stores and airports, and those employees will be trained at a later time.

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Starbucks will shut down more than 8,000 stores across America today to teach its employees about racism. They also will participate in discussion and problem-solving sessions on identifying and avoiding bias. But one expert says training of this kind can have the opposite effect if people feel judged. The move comes after backlash over the way two black men were recently treated in a Philadelphia store. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer, while another employee watches, and respectfully ask the customer to cease the offensive action.

There's a reason why you won't be able to get your afternoon pick-me-up from Starbucks on Tuesday.

She wouldn't give too much more away about the training, but said Perception's workshops typically encouraged participants to think about how they were "socialised" to think about certain groups, and to challenge that thinking. Ifill and her fellow unpaid adviser, Heather McGhee, the president of the public policy organization Demos, will issue a report outlining a comprehensive set of issues they believe the company must address.

The company plans to share its materials with the public after the training, and hopes that other businesses will make use of the tools in their own workplaces.

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