Starbucks closed over 8,000 stores on May 29 for racial bias training in response to a recent incident in Philadelphia in which two black customers were arrested while waiting to meet someone. The brand shuttered many (but not all) of its locations at 2 p.m. local time to allow over 175,000 Starbucks employees to focus on presentations and discussions related to understanding racial bias. Materials for the sessions were created by expert advisors, researchers, social scientists, and activists including the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP.
The chain explained its reasoning in a press release: “The incident in Philadelphia pushed us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities, and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like what happened in Philadelphia happens again at Starbucks. Starbucks does not shy away from hard discussions, especially those that are core to living company values.”
The brand’s decision to close up shop for the necessary training is being hailed by many as a progressive step forward.
Many social media users took the opportunity to highlight black-owned coffee shops that remained open during those hours.
However, some Twitter users felt inconvenienced by the coffee shop closures and made it known that they don’t care “a latte” about social justice, they just want their coffee. Luckily for them, all Starbucks locations will reopen during normal hours on May 30.
According to Business Insider, licensed Starbucks locations, such as those inside Target stores and Kroger, remained open during the training. (The company closed all of the stores that it wholly owns and operates.)
Starbucks has also made it clear that this is only the beginning for their sensitivity training. According to the press release, “Starbucks will deepen its diversity and inclusion efforts in the months ahead, focusing on the cultural evolution of the company and sharing lessons learned with leaders everywhere who can benefit.”
The curriculum Starbucks used to educate its employees is now available to the public. The chain also plans to add more dates devoted to educating its employees on “understanding bias, inclusion, use of the third place, leadership,” and a number of other topics. They’ll also continue working with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, as well as representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and more to ensure the correct treatment of its customers. “We will continually assess our progress and remain open to engaging with other groups as merited,” the coffee giant stated.
Whether you’re boycotting Starbucks or celebrating their step forward, these are the healthiest unhealthiest drinks on their menu.