Starbucks is closing down 8,000 US stores on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education for nearly 175,000 employees.
The training comes just days after a Starbucks store in Philadelphia came under fire for arresting two black men who were waiting to meet with someone. When the two asked if they could use the bathroom in the store, Starbucks told them they couldn’t since they didn’t purchase anything. A manager then proceeded to call the police on them after they refused to leave.
The incident has spurred protests in the city and calls for a boycott of Starbucks. Kevin Johnson, the company's chief executive, recently met with the two men in Philadelphia to apologize.
“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,” said Johnson 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 Starbucks, the education curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including 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; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former US Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.