Starbucks will shut down more than 8,000 of its company-owned locations in the United States on Tuesday, May 29. The coffee chain will conduct a mandatory anti-bias training for 175,000 employees. Every store will close around 2pm (local time), so you'll have to head somewhere else for your afternoon pick me up.
There are about 7,000 franchised Starbucks locations -- including locations in hotels, grocery stores, and big-box retailers, and elsewhere -- which will remain open all day.
Why is Starbucks closing?
Starbucks Chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz issued an open letter in the hours before the training, addressing both customers and employees:
"What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong -- because they do," Schultz said. "This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners."
The training is the corporation's response to the backlash from a Philadelphia store manager calling 911 on two black men -- Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson -- who were arrested for trespassing. The men were waiting for a business associate to arrive for a meeting and used the bathroom without making a purchase.
After the outcry, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson promised the company would take action to ensure an incident like this wouldn't happen again. The company describes the nationwide shutdown on Tuesday as "a first step" rather than a solution.
"While this is not limited to Starbucks," Johnson said after the incident, "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."
What is Starbucks doing after the training?
So, what's the next step after the mandatory training? A Starbucks person offered a brief preview of what the company will be doing moving forward:
- Starbucks will make the mandatory racial bias training curriculum public.
- It will offer more training sessions for "understanding bias, inclusion, use of the third place, leadership, among other topics."
- Representatives from the company will attend the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights this summer.
- As for the longterm, Starbucks said it will consult with a organizations and civil rights experts -- the Anti-Defamation League, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, LGBTQ groups, Muslim advocates, UnidosUS, religious groups, among others -- to assess its progress.
The company has also announced policy changes in response to the arrest and subsequent settlement. You no longer have to purchase anything at a Starbucks if you'd like to take a seat or use the restroom.
It remains to be seen whether the training alone is enough to curb the kind of racial bias seen in the incident in Philadelphia, but it's a first step toward combatting bias of the type seen in the treatment of Robinson and Nelson and other Starbucks patrons since then.
Which Starbucks are closing?
You can use this store locator to see if your local Starbucks will be closed for anti-bias training.