COLUMBUS (AP/WCMH) — Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores nationwide Tuesday to conduct anti-bias training, the next of many steps the company is taking in an effort to restore its tarnished diversity-friendly image.
Eric Varner of Grove City says he once worked for Starbucks adding that the company has always been very focused on promoting an open and inclusive culture. “This is just a sign that you that they want to get ahead of the problem,” Varner said. “Yeah, there was an incident but I think its more about them making sure there’s not another incident and making sure that everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing”
The coffee chain’s leaders reached out to bias training experts after the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month.
The plan has brought attention to the little-known world of “unconscious bias training” used by corporations, police departments and other organizations. It’s designed to get people to open up about implicit biases and stereotypes in encountering people of color, gender or other identities.
A video previewing the training says it will include recorded remarks from Starbucks executives. “We are here to make sure Starbucks is a place where everyone, everyone feels welcome,” says CEO Kevin Johnson in the video.
The company says employees going through the training will “move into a real and honest exploration of bias.”
The closings affect all company-operated stores but most of its licensed stores like those operating in airports and grocery stores will remain open.