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Starbucks Is Closing More Than 8,000 Stores for ‘Racial Bias’ Training

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The same sensitivity training will also be implemented in the onboarding process for new hires

Starbucks has announced the upcoming temporary closure of all of its company-owned U.S. stores and corporate offices. On the afternoon of May 29, 175,000 employees will partake in “racial-bias education” in an effort to prevent discrimination of the sort that recently led to arrests at a Philadelphia store. The same sensitivity training will also be implemented in the onboarding process for new hires.

The move to close more than 8,000 locations nationwide follows the arrest of two black men who were taken into custody for trespassing at a Starbucks in Philadelphia on April 14. The two unnamed males were waiting for a friend when the manager on duty called police because they didn’t order anything and refused to leave.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a release. The executive is expected to meet with the two men who were detained, but an exact time and date has yet to be disclosed.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” Johnson added. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

The training program will be dedicated to addressing implicit bias, promoting conscious inclusion, preventing discrimination, and ensuring everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome. The curriculum will reportedly be developed under the guidance of social justice experts, including founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, president of Demos Heather McGee, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt.

"[Starbucks’] founding values are based on humanity and inclusion," executive chairman Howard Schultz said in a release. "We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer."

Starbucks officials have started to review current protocols to search for potential flaws and make any necessary changes. Once things are set in stone, the Seattle-based chain will share new education materials to its partners and other companies to make use with their own employees.

Not all Starbucks locations will be closed on May 29. The chain has a total of 14,209 outposts in the U.S., according to Loxcel Geomatics. The press  release did not mention how the training would be handled in non-company locations. The Daily Meal has reached out to Starbucks for more information.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this whole scenario, but one important takeaway could be that it doesn’t hurt to do a little self-reflecting from time to time. With that in mind, here are 15 nice things we could all try to say more often.

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