There’s a possibility you might not be able to make a Starbucks run for your favorite Frappuccino this afternoon but it might well be worth it—in the long run anyway! Around 8,000 Starbucks company-operated stores are being closed today for a very important cause—racial bias training.
In case you’re not familiar with the training, it’s an attempt Starbucks has made in efforts to make things right after two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia in April for doing absolutely nothing. This is why Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson decided to have these trainings take place, to make sure all Starbucks employees know what racial bias is and know how to prevent future customers from experiencing it.
“The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion. We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to create a safe and welcoming environment for every customer,” Johnson said in a public statement.
As a result, more than 8,000 Starbuck company-owned stores and offices across the country will be closing this afternoon, while employees receive training and engage in discussions on race, bias, the importance of building diversity, and inclusion.
“Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores,” Starbucks executive vice president, Rossan Williams, said in a companywide note.
Racism isn’t something that goes away overnight—obviously, right? Otherwise we wouldn’t still be dealing with it in 2018. These trainings aren’t going to necessarily fix the racism issue that still very much exists in this country but it can spark social change. By closing over 8,000 Starbucks stores throughout the nation to hold these trainings, Starbucks is sending a very clear message that they aren’t standing for racism or racial bias in any of their shops. It also gives employees an people an opportunity to not only recognize their bias but understand the importance of having to change it.
Some folks think the racial bias training is merely a publicity stunt on Starbuck’s part, a way to clean up their reputation. While that may be the case to a certain extent, I also think a lot of good can actually come from these trainings. If we want to teach society that something like racial bias is unacceptable and needs to end than we need to do more than just talk about it and issue apologies—we need to actually take action. Does more action need to be taken? Absolutely, but these racial bias training might just be the start we need right now.