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Starbucks Closes for Anti-Bias Training: Will It Make a Difference?



Starbucks is trying to incite an outcry over the arrest of two black men in one of its stores, closing more than 8,000 stores for an afternoon anti-bias training, a strategy some believe racism will be kept in check can.

Following the arrests in Philadelphia last month, the leaders of the coffee chain apologized and met with the two men, but also with activists and experts in bias training, to put together a syllabus for their 175,000 workers .

This brings into focus the little-known world of "unconscious bias training" used by many companies, police and other organizations to combat racism at work. Training is typically designed to help people understand implicit prejudices and stereotypes when encountering people with color, gender or other identities.

The Perception Institute, a consortium of Starbucks researchers, defines implicit bias as a positive or negative attitude negative or stereotypes that someone has toward a person or group, without being aware of it. A well-known example, according to some studies, is a tendency for white people to unknowingly associate black people with criminal behavior.

Many retailers, including Walmart and Target, said they already offer some racial prejudice. Target plans to expand this training. Nordstrom has announced that it will improve its education after having apologized three black teens in Missouri whose employees were falsely accused of shoplifting.

Anti-bias sessions can include personal reflection, emotion exploration, and mental exercises. But an expert says that training of this nature can have the opposite effect when people feel judged.

There will be comments from Starbucks managers and rapper / activist Common, according to a video featuring Starbucks training. From there, employees will "engage in a genuine and honest study of bias" in which they can share in small groups how the problem appears in their daily work lives.

Starbucks has described it as a "collaborative and engaging experience" so shop partners can learn together. "

The four-hour session was developed with feedback from the NAACP Defense and Education Fund, the Perception Institute and other social security stakeholders, and gives workers an insight into the history of civil rights from the 1960s to the present

Alexis McGill Johnson, co-founder and executive director of Perception, says anti-bias training is about awareness.

"The work we want to do does not mean you're bad," because you have a stereotype about a group, but say your brain could have those stereotypes, "she said.

Johnson declined to clarify the details of the Starbucks training to show attendees how bias creeps into situations A session may involve personal reflections, she said, such as "I was socialized to think about a group this way." [JohnsonsaidtherealjobisthatpeopleareapplyingWhatyoulearninyoureverydaylifeShecomparedittomuscletrainingSomewaystostereotypingshesaidaretolookforsomethinguniqueaboutapersonwhoisover

"It could be a question that causes something more interesting than, say, the weather or the traffic," Johnson said, emphasizing the necessities ability to "go far beyond the superficial.

In the incident in Philadelphia, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were asked to leave after denying access to the bathroom They were arrested by the police after they had seated themselves The incident was recorded with cell phones and viral.

Nelson and Robinson settled down this month with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and an offer of free education, and they also reached a contract with the city of Philadelphia each for a symbolic amount of $ 1 and a pledge by officials to set up a $ 200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

Starbucks has since announced that anyone can use their restrooms even if they do not buy anything Documents that Starbucks sends to in-store employees should be carefully considered when dealing with troublesome customers. A guide tells employees if the actions they are taking apply to each customer in the same situation. You should only dial the 911 if the situation seems uncertain.

Starbucks said the arrests should never have taken place and announced the closing of stores for the afternoon of the training.

Calvin Lai, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Brain Research at Washington University in St. Louis, said that on this one day, one should not expect much.

"We find that diversity training often has mixed effects, and in some cases can even kick back and lead people who already are. It responds to these issues to become even more polarized," Lai said.

An afternoon would not really "put the needle on the bias," especially if it's a company with as many employees as Starbucks, he said. "Many of these employees will not be here next year or two or three years later."

Starbucks said Tuesday's meetings are "one step in a long journey to make Starbucks more welcoming." safe for everyone. "She works with volunteer counselors, including Hodes McGhee, president of the social advocacy group Demos, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

" One of the things Starbucks struggles with is integrating them Type of training in every employee's onboarding, "said Ifil.

That requires a sustained effort, McGhee added.

" We've really made it clear that training is not enough, and that must be part of a running one Reviewing their policies, "McGhee said," you really have to commit. "


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