Monday, 22 October, 2018

Starbucks closing for racial bias training

11 2018 A sign for Starbucks is seen on a street in New York City. Hector Retamal. AFP 11 2018 A sign for Starbucks is seen on a street in New York City. Hector Retamal. AFP
Elsie Buchanan | 30 May, 2018, 13:30

"It's insane, in America there are people of all colors and I like them all".

The Perception Institute, a consortium of researchers consulting with Starbucks, defines implicit bias as attitudes - positive or negative - or stereotypes someone has toward a person or group without being conscious of it. Starbucks added that if employees see customers who are unreasonably loud, watching something inappropriate on a personal device or disrupting others with their personal hygiene, they should step in.

The controversy that caused Starbucks to close all of its stores Tuesday afternoon is also creating a push for people to patronize black-owned coffee shops, while creating an opportunity for racial dialogue.

'It's just the beginning, ' he said of the four-hour training session. Nordstrom has said it plans to enhance its training after three black teenagers in Missouri were falsely accused by employees of shoplifting.

Starbucks said the instruction will become part of how it trains all new workers.

According to a video previewing the Starbucks training, there will be recorded remarks from Starbucks executives and rapper/activist Common.

Workers at each location will break into small groups to learn together.

Developed with help from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and other groups, the training was not mandatory, but Starbucks said it expected nearly all of its employees to participate. "It gives me peace of mind knowing I won't be attacked because of the color of my skin", she said.

Johnson declined to elaborate on the details of the Starbucks training. "It's been addressed", she said.

"They've got it taken care of", Mann said. She likened it to exercising a muscle. She said that should happen only when there is a provocation or danger.

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"It could be having a question that elicits something more interesting than, say, the weather or the traffic", Johnson said, stressing the need to "go well beyond the superficial".

Indeed, in the weeks after Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested at the Philadelphia location, Starbucks implemented new policies that allow people to sit in stores or use their bathrooms without purchasing anything. After police arrived they arrested the two men.

Starbucks faced backlash when a video of the incident went viral. And when Starbucks later announced more than 8,000 stores across the country would participate in racial bias education training, she didn't understand why. They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to establish a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

That's how visitors to the Starbucks on Marietta Square felt Tuesday after a sign on the door told them to come back tomorrow. If customers are disruptive, employees have been advised to step in. They should dial 911 only if the situation seems unsafe.

According to estimates detailed by USA Today, Starbucks likely lost around $12 million by closing its US -based stores on Tuesday afternoon.

Calvin Lai, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said people should not place high expectations on this one day.

Starbucks said the session was not mandatory, but that employees were "invited and encouraged" to attend, reported NPR. It is working with volunteer advisers including Heather McGhee, president of social advocacy organization Demos, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Diaz said she had heard about the incident in Philadelphia and the subsequent training session in the news, but forgot all about it when the afternoon doldrums struck.

'We could have spent marketing dollars different from this, ' he said in response to claims it was a 'marketing ploy'.

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