RELEASE DATE: April 23, 2018
As a result of racial bias and racial profiling, a Starbucks employee called the cops on two real estate agents who were waiting inside the store for a potential client to arrive for a business meeting. The gentlemen were arrested, despite their innocence (they were not acting against any official Starbucks policy by simply waiting in the cafe), and there was an immediate response from the public when news of the arrest broke. Since then, Starbucks has taken some major strides to not only apologize to the two men, but to actively seek out ways to prevent this sort of incident from happening in the future. As a result, Starbucks will be closing all stores and some corporate locations (a combined total of over 8,000 locations, nationwide) across the US on May 29th to hold racial bias trainings which are currently being designed “with input from groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League” (NYTimes).
This is a notable step in the right direction. This is an investment by Starbucks that hits them in the pocket book and will not have immediate results (racial bias and other systemic biases take a long time to really whittle down), two things businesses and corporations tend to shy away from. We’ll see over time what impact this has, not only in Starbucks stores in the US, but in the policies and approaches of other corporations. Starbucks is setting a precedent. Will others follow?