Starbucks Will Close Over 8,000 Stores for Racial-Bias Training

Following the wrongful arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks last week, Starbucks announced that they will be closing over 8,000 U.S. company-owned stores on May 29th to give employees racial-bias training.

The coffee giant said in a statement on Tuesday (April 17) that the anti-discrimination training is “designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.” The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 Starbucks employees across the U.S. and “will become part of the onboarding process for new 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,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement. “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.”

According to the statement, the curriculum will be developed with the supervision from various national and local experts confronting racial bias, including former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund;  Heather McGhee, president of Demos; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Once the training is complete, Starbucks will make the education materials available to other companies.

Kevin Johnson was forced to apologize over the weekend after a video of the two young men being arrested went viral. It all started when employees at the Philadelphia location of the coffee chain called the police on two black men for sitting in the store without buying a drink – as they were waiting for a friend to arrive. A video of the arrest went viral instantly, with over 10 million views on twitter. In the video, viewers can see several police officers surrounding and escorting the two very calm men while customers asked why they were being arrested.

There are currently over 13,000 Starbucks located in the United States.

Photo Credit: PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 15: Protestor Michelle Brown, 50, (L) demonstrates outside a Center City Starbucks on April 15, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Police arrested two black men who were waiting inside the Center City Starbucks which prompted an apology from the company’s CEO. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)