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Starbucks to Close All Stores Nationwide for Racial-Bias Education on 29 May

Starbucks Coffee Company announced it will be closing its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of 29 May to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in its stores. The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 partners (employees) across the country and will become part of the onboarding process for new partners.

“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,” says Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. 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.”

All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesday 29 May. During that time, partners will go through a training programme designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.

“The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion,” says executive chairman Howard Schultz, who joined Johnson and other senior Starbucks leaders in Philadelphia to meet with community leaders and Starbucks partners. “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”

The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former US attorney general Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Starbucks will involve these experts in monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures the company undertake.

Earlier this week, Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks began a review of its training and practices to make important reforms where necessary to ensure its stores always represent its mission and values, by providing a safe and inclusive environment for its customers and partners. Once completed, the company will make the education materials available to other companies, including its licensee partners, for use with their employees and leadership.

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