All eyes are on Starbucks. And not because it introduces a new caffeinated beverage.
Today, Starbucks closes its more than 8,000 locales across the country to carry out racial bias training for its 175,000 employees.
Some critics, mainly in social media, see it as political correctness gone too far. Others welcome the training.
It comes almost seven weeks after two black men waiting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia were arrested when a business leader called the police.
Since their arrest on April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson have made a settlement with the city: A payment of $ 1 to anyone in exchange for creating a $ 200,000 fund to help young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia
Starbucks has received a backlash from the critics and calls for a boycott. Earlier this month, it announced a new policy allowing anyone to use their spaces, including restrooms, cafes and terraces, regardless of whether they make a purchase. Business leaders explained that the earlier guidelines were loose and ambiguous and made decisions about whether people could sit in their stores or use the restroom to the store manager.
Although Greer Starbucks has always been a welcoming place for him. For him, training is a good step for a company that has grown to more than 28,000 locations in 77 countries. "Starbucks needs to understand that it's more than a coffee house, it's a neighborhood hangout."
"Starbucks has become part of our culture," Kimbrough reiterated.
Starbucks guests will find a sign on the front door that says, "We'll close on May 29th," so that his team can reconnect with our mission and share ideas on how to make Starbucks even more hospitable. " Starbucks, however, said that the short closure is only the first stage of bias training.
The impact of training against racial biases is difficult to quantify, and Starbucks' well-publicized move carries potential risks and potential benefits.
"It must go on, can you imagine liberating people from unconscious bias in one day?" Said Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, a lecturer in African American history and gender studies at Indiana University and currently a scholarship holder at the James Weldon Johnson Institute of Studies Race and Difference at Emory University
"I've spent my life teaching implicit prejudice, I can not do that in a 15-week semester class, I'm just scratching the surface, Starbucks may not be a company for it stop in one day, "she said.
To help shape the training on May 29, Starbucks sought to work with anti-bias training experts following the expertise of the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the public policy organization Demos to lay the groundwork for a longer-term Starbucks anti-bias, diversity, equity, and inclusion effort "
Myers is particularly interested in knowing who it will be
" I hope they come with sensitivity and with realism I hope that they are colorful people who have experienced these problems and can speak to them not only from an academic perspective but from a personal perspective, "said Myers, who is black.
Starbucks did not respond to requests for training details
Greer, the Starbucks regular, sees great potential for Starbucks & # 39; s companies. "Starbucks has the ability to be a catalyst to help other companies," he said.
This is in contrast to the opinion of many. A social media poster for example, wrote on Saturday that he does not support the company's plan and writes in part: "Calling the cops on two loitering guys is not racism, in response you turn your business into public toilets, liberal idiots. "
Starbucks may be one of the first major companies to develop a comprehensive plan to combat prejudice. At least, today's training is an opportunity for other big companies to rethink their own strategies.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contacted half a dozen large, local companies to ask what, if anything, they would do to minimize displays (19659002) Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers said his company was working hard to accept "similarities and differences" between people and culture.
"We are further expanding our awareness-reducing awareness-raising programs as part of our overall diversity and inclusion training curriculum and leadership development programs," he said.
Home Depot, the largest Georgia-based company, has a commitment to respect for all people, said spokesman Stephen Holmes. "That's one of our core values, and we reinforce that with ongoing training."
Managers are taking a course on unconscious bias to increase their awareness, he said, and another training program is being conducted in stores for front-line employees. "If you work for Home Depot, you will be trained on a regular basis."
Chick-fil-A and Original Parts did not respond to AJC requests. Arby's comment declined, a spokesman said the company's chief information officer was out of town.
A reluctance to talk is not surprising, said Johnny Taylor, Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management, a 285,000-member group
"What they're going to say The problem is, none of us has an answer ", he said. "This is a really complicated topic, and we are not at all convinced that anyone has figured out what an effective intervention is."
Starbucks takes "bold, courageous" actions - which could easily backfire, he said. "They say it can not do any harm, but it can - what Starbucks does with 100,000 employees is no small deal, and if things go wrong, it will not be a trivial matter."
Of course it's risky, too do, he said. It's about reputational risk, it's about financial risk. "
Everyone has different kinds of prejudices, Taylor said. Programs can encourage employees to solve all sorts of problems, but there is a risk that, "What happens if you have everyone in a safe room and the manager says, 'You know, I never liked Black people.' As an employee in this business, would you still be able to work there? "
In essence, the most important issue is behavior, he said," If I'm a gay man and my boss treats me well, I really want to know he thinks I'm immoral? "
Taylor said he'll see what Starbucks does and how it ends." Nothing magical will happen on Tuesday. And the real test is not Wednesday. It will take six months.
THE HISTORY SO FAR
April 12 – Two black men waiting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia are arrested after a store manager has called the police in. The arrest leads to calls for a boycott of the police Global coffee chain and to talk about implicit prejudices against colored people.
April 17 – Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announces that the afternoon's chain will close its more than 8,000 US locations from May 29 to racially motivated Training for its 175,000 employees The training is designed to prevent discrimination in its businesses.
May 19 – Starbucks announces a new policy that allows anyone to use their spaces, whether they are make a purchase or not, business leaders say that their previous guidelines were loose and ambiguous, and left decisions about whether people d sitting or using the toilet to store managers. The company notes that workers should still call the police if someone poses a security threat.
29th May – Starbucks will close all US locations in the afternoon to carry out racially motivated training for 175,000 employees.