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Starbucks to Close Its 8,000 US Stores this May 29 to Conduct a Racial Bias Training!

One of the greatest causes most people fight for in this modern world is equality. We fight to gain equal rights to life, working opportunities, the ability to express our feelings without oppression and the ability to walk on the streets in peace. We deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity regardless of our appearance, size, gender, religion, origin, and principles in life. We’re entitled to enjoy all the benefits this world has to offer.

However, it seems the dream of seeing an equal world is still unattainable as we still fight against bigotry and discrimination. A notorious example of this is the recent Starbucks incident in Philadelphia where two black men who were only waiting for their friend, got arrested last week. Starbucks then made a drastic response to remedy this situation, even going as far as closing their 8,000 US Stores to conduct a racial bias training to their staff.

An Unlawful Arrest

One protester marched at Philadelphia Starbucks while holding signage with a statement “Enough! Shame on You Starbucks! #BLM”

Just last week, the public lambasted the Starbucks branch in Philadelphia after its store manager (who has been fired as of this writing), called the police to arrest two men sitting inside the store without placing their orders. The former manager accused them of trespassing. Both men claimed they were only waiting for their friend to arrive. That said person arrived minutes later during the arrest. The recent events sparked the ire of Americans who support diversity and equality. Some citizens even commented how this event contradicted the Starbucks mission to promote a borderless, diverse, and healthy workplace around the world.

The Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson arranged a meeting with both men sometime last week when the news went viral. He said he wanted to meet them in person and apologized for face to face for the humiliation they felt from that horrible experience. Johnson also stated it was an opportunity for them to hear their side and understand the situation. He stated he was able to extend some compassion and empathy from what happened and they were able to have a productive conversation and both men gave their constructive criticisms to solve this issue and prevent it from happening again.

Racial Bias Training

The constructive conversation Johnson had with the victims of said incident inspired him to conduct a racial bias training to his 175,000 staff on May 29.

Johnson states they will conduct the said training to equip their workers with people skills for them to learn how to be courteous at all time to their customers. Not only that, but their staff will also learn how to ignore their inner bias and treat people with respect and acceptance regardless where they come from. They aim to prevent this unfair treatment from being extended to their customers, and they’ll evaluate the current programs they have. If they did something wrong, the racial bias training will help fix these issues to improve their quality of customer service.

Johnson also stated that their training will be developed by a team of experts like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, CEO of Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt, and former Attorney General Eric Holder to give guidance and assess its effectiveness after the training. They will assess whether the Starbucks workers are able to apply the lessons they will be taught in training.

Training Is Not Enough

Associate Professor of Human Resource at Houston’s College of Technology Holly Hutchins fear that forcing its workers to undergo a diverse training may trigger more stereotypes and backlash.

While the public lauded Starbucks for their countermeasures, some Human Resource Experts commented that just by conducting a training session isn’t enough to change the perception of its workers against gender and racial sensitivity.

Instead of only conducting a one-time training, she urges the Starbucks to conduct interpersonal interactions instead among employees to develop a mutual understanding of their different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They should develop a deep yet solid foundation of respect and acceptance to build long-term engagements as they expose themselves to different perspectives from different races, the more their employees will have a broader idea on how to socialize with diverse people and treat them with respect.

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