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Starbucks Shares Further Details on Multi-Phase Anti-Bias Training Efforts

Following the reprehensible event in one of its stores on April 12 in Philadelphia, Starbucks announced it will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on May 29 to conduct racial-bias training for all partners (employees). 

“The objective of closing our stores and utilizing that day for training is to affirm that Starbucks is a welcoming place for everyone, that all customers deserve our respect and fair treatment every day, and that we will invest—again and again—in our teams so they can deliver a great experience to every customer,” said Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer of Starbucks. “This day will kick off a multiphase effort to train 175,000 partners from the field, corporate offices and plants across the country. Its content will then become a critical part of the onboarding process for new partners thereafter.”

The training is part of a longer, comprehensive effort to make Starbucks even more diverse, equitable, and inclusive than it is today. This will include ongoing review and revisions of relevant store and corporate policies, guidelines and practices.

“It’s important we get this step right, and we can’t do that alone. That’s why we’ve brought together the top thought leaders in this space to help us make this impactful, scalable and lasting,” Johnson said. “Starbucks has sought engagement and counsel to ensure it has a broad historical view on race; access to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts; views from civil rights leaders; and deep conversation and engagement with a wide number of diverse communities.”

Advisory Committee for May 29th Racial-Bias Training

Starbucks has established a set of advisors who will work alongside the company to provide their expertise to the design of the May 29 training, in conjunction with anti-bias training experts, in order to set the foundation for a longer-term Starbucks anti-bias, diversity, equity, and inclusion effort.

The company is very grateful to have the leadership of:

— 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; and

— Heather McGhee, president of Demos

Stevenson, Ifill and McGhee will provide advice, counsel, connections to other experts, and recommendations to Starbucks for the May 29 training, which will launch the multiphase effort for the company. 

Guidance on Long-term Efforts

Further, in the months ahead, Starbucks will deepen its diversity and inclusion efforts, focusing on the cultural evolution of Starbucks, and also sharing lessons learned with leaders everywhere who can benefit. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will serve as a key external advisor on the long-term diversity and equity efforts.

For these longer-term changes Starbucks will be working with community and political leaders in Philadelphia who have been providing thoughtful guidance, and will seek input from leaders of Starbucks Partner Networks as well. 

Starbucks will also consult with a diverse array of organizations and civil rights experts—including The Anti-Defamation League, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, and representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and others.

“This day of education starts a new era for Starbucks. We founded Starbucks on the concept of being the Third Place in customers’ lives—a place that is neither work nor home, a place that's safe, uplifting and welcoming for everyone,” said executive chairman Howard Schultz. “But we recognize that fulfilling our mission requires us to do even more to promote inclusion and fight bias. We intend to lead on this issue, as we have on so many other systemic challenges that confront our country."


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