Starbucks Closes Stores on Tuesday Afternoon for Racial Bias Training

Starbucks Closes Stores on Tuesday Afternoon for Racial Bias Training

Starbucks Closes Stores on Tuesday Afternoon for Racial Bias Training

Starbucks-licensed outlets, such as those found in colleges or supermarkets, or inside other retail outlets, are not included among the 8,000-plus company-owned stores confirmed to be closing in Starbucks' announcement, and not required to close. Participating stores will close around 2 3 p.m. local time.

The plan covers only Starbucks-operated stores; almost all of the 7,000 Starbucks-licensed coffee shops - in places like supermarkets, hotels, and airports - are likely to remain open, the company says. A store manager called the police because the men were sitting in the store without placing an order.

A Starbucks store is seen inside the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on October 27, 2015. That mission came under new scrutiny in April, when two men who had been refused access to the bathroom at a Philadelphia store refused to leave.

Starbucks has since announced anyone can use its restrooms even if they are not buying anything.

For four hours today, more than 170,000 Starbucks employees will set aside the Frappuccinos and espresso machines to learn how to avoid the kind of racial bias that many say led to the arrests of two African-American men for occupying a table without making a purchase. Thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks an inclusive gathering place for all.

Corporate America began to embrace anti-bias training after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Starbucks signed a US$7 billion licensing deal with Nestle earlier this month that banks on the power of its brand in the United States to strengthen the Swiss company's leading position globally.

Many retailers including Walmart and Target said they already offer some racial bias training. A guide advises staff to consider whether the actions they take would apply to any customer in the same situation. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer and respectfully ask him or her to cease the offensive action while another employee watches.

Within 24 hours, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the incident "reprehensible" and apologized to the men.

As for her role in the training, Ifill said her goal was to ensure "that what they do undertake is rigorous and is likely to produce real results".

The company plans to share its materials with the public after the training, and hopes that other businesses will make use of the tools in their own workplaces.

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