Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Starbucks to close more than 8,000 stores for anti-bias training

Starbucks to close more than 8,000 stores for anti-bias training

Starbucks is closing 8,000 company-owned US stores at around 2 pm local time on Tuesday as a first step in training 175,000 employees on racial tolerance.

The training is part of Starbucks' efforts to overhaul the company's image following the April arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia location.

As a result, about 8,000 company-owned locations across the country will close early Tuesday.

Company-owned stores on Staten Island will be open until 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Workers will break into groups to undergo training.

In an open letter to Starbucks customers released this morning, the coffee giants' executive chairman Howard Schultz called the training the beginning of a "new chapter in our history".

During Starbucks' training today, Schultz said, employees will "be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong - because they do".

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The closures follows the arrests of two African-American men in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

The training is meant to help Starbucks navigate the challenges of being the "third place" that its leaders have often spoken about - the place where people spend time outside of work and their home.

As for her role in the training, Ifill said her goal was to ensure "that what they do undertake is rigorous and is likely to produce real results".

"We know that one day of training will not stop bias or solve racism", a company spokesperson told MONEY in an email.

"Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores", said Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president for USA retail, in a news release. The men, who had previously asked for the code needed to gain access to the store's restroom, said they were waiting for a friend.

A guide advises staff to consider whether the actions they take would apply to any customer in the same situation. Starbucks added that customers could be asked to change their behavior if they are unreasonably loud, watching something inappropriate on a personal device or their personal hygiene disrupts others. It also suggests that they consult colleagues to see if they agree that the person is being disruptive. Starbucks officials say training is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and will be geared toward preventing to discrimination in stores.

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