Starbucks will close its United States stores on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education focusing on preventing discrimination, the company said in a released statement.
Nearly 175,000 employees will receive the training, which also will given to new hires, the company said.
“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.”
The training will be designed to address “implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome,” the company said.
Starbucks will develop the training with guidance from those confronting racial bias, including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the company said.
The company made the announcement after two black men, who have not been identified, were arrested inside the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets on Thursday. A video of the incident was captured and posted on social media, which drew millions of views.
The arrest sparked protests outside both the Spruce Street store and others in the city on Monday, where community leaders and politicians condemned the company.
“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018,” Mayor Jim Kenney said on Saturday the weekend.
Johnson called the arrests “reprehensible” during an editorial meeting at the Philadelphia Tribune on Monday as he sat alongside Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer.
Starbucks does not have a company-wide policy on asking members of the public to leave its its 33 Philadelphia stores, Johnson and Brewer said. The two pledged to add training for store managers on unconscious bias.
The interfaith coalition People Improving Communities through Organizing, or POWER, coordinated some of the protests at Center City Starbucks stores on Monday.
Rev. Greg Holston, executive director of POWER, said while he was encouraged about the training, Starbucks “has a lot more work to do.”
“Any attempt on their part to move forward with additional training for their staff and the admission that their staff needs it across the country is a good thing,” Holston said.
“But much more than one day is going to be needed to make the kind of transformational change within the organization, and within the community that surrounds their Starbucks, that is necessary.”
Holston called on Starbucks to determine whether last week’s incident is a pattern in the organization, support racial justice issues, and work with communities to understand its overall effect on neighborhoods, among other things.
In response to the arrests, the mayor’s office said the city’s Commission on Human Relations would review the company’s policies, guidelines and procedures, including whether Starbucks needs additional training training for its employees. The city also asked Starbucks for data on the demographics of its workforce and management, among other things.
“We need more information, but it appears to be a good first step in meeting their stated intent to provide this training to employees. However, in our opinion, it is imperative that the training be conducted in person and include local trainers in the curriculum and presentation,” Hooper said.
The police department continues internal review of the incident, the mayor’s office said Monday, and the department is reviewing protocols related to how officers respond to such incident.
In addition, the mayor’s office said the Police Advisory Commission will review practices involved in this incident, as well as review video and conduct interviews with those who were present.
On Thursday, police received a 911 call about a disturbance and trespassing incident at the store, located at 1801 Spruce St., said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross in a Facebook Live video.
Starbucks employees told police that the two men entered the store and attempted to use the bathroom, Ross said. Employees added it was company policy that bathrooms were for customers only, Ross said.
Police asked the two men to leave multiple times, but the two men refused, Ross said.
The two men were arrested, but were released after police were informed Starbucks no longer wanted to prosecute them, Ross said.
Ross said the officers involved followed department policy and “did absolutely nothing wrong.”