Freeport, Illinois — Starbucks announced Tuesday it will be closing all of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. during the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program.
“On May 29th, we will close our company-owned stores in the US to conduct racial-bias training in order to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, and prevent discrimination so everyone feels safe and welcome at Starbucks.”
The announcement from world’s biggest coffee company comes as it tries to cool tensions after the arrest of two black men at one of its Philadelphia cafes last week sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain.
Protesters have called for a boycott of the company, in what has become the biggest public relations test yet for Chief Executive Kevin Johnson.
A curriculum will be developed with guidance from national and local experts, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of ADL – Anti-Defamation League.
The training will impact nearly 175,000 partners (employees) across the country, and will become core to the orientation process for new partners. “These experts will hold us accountable by monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures we undertake”, the company says.
“We’re ashamed and recognize that racial bias is a problem we need to–and will–address.”
Starbucks did not say how many hours the stores would be closed on May 29.