Starbucks shops around the US are closing for anti-bias training

NOW: Starbucks shops around the US are closing for anti-bias training

Updated: MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Signs are posted telling customers to come back tomorrow at 8,000 Starbucks locations across the country.

The company closed stores this afternoon so employees can go through four hours of racial bias training. The decision to train 175,000 employees comes after a manager at a Philadelphia store called police on two black men who were denied access to the bathroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.

“I look at it and say 2014 when Dontre died, they should’ve jumped on board and did more then and we wouldn’t be here,” said Nate Hamilton.

Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed here in red arrow park four years ago. It was a Starbucks employee who called police because he was sleeping outside the store.

His brother Nate says the company’s policies should have been addressed then.

“It’s sad to say that the two men being arrested had to force their hand, had to awake a nation and say yo, starbucks is in the wrong. Starbucks has been in the wrong a long time,” said Nate.

Employees are taking the afternoon to get educated through instructional videos about discrimination in public places, and how to prevent making snap judgments.

Given what’s going on in the rest of it world, and our country with it, that’s it’s a problem and it needs to be brought to peoples attention. This is a great way to do that,” said customer Calli Brauer.

Lisa Jones with rid racism Milwaukee believes it’s a start.

“We need to constantly work at it. We need to constantly be talking about it. It’s not one training it’s not one session, it’s not one meeting, it’s not one forum. It needs to happen consistently,” said Jones.

“You have to continuously embed this into your hiring process that people not just take this training for behind the counter service, but they apply it to their day to day life,” said Nate.


(CNN Money) -- Starbucks will close about 8,000 company-owned locations on Tuesday afternoon to offer 175,000 employees a mandatory anti-bias training.

Most of the 7,000 licensed stores, including those operated by hotels, grocery stores and airports, should be open. Participating stores will close around 2 p.m. to 3 pm, local time. To see if a Starbucks location near you is closing, please click here. 

Here's what you need to know.

Why is Starbucks doing this? Starbucks announced the training soon after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April.

A store manager called the police because the men were sitting in the store without placing an order. They were arrested for trespassing. The men, who had previously asked for the code needed to use the store's bathroom, said they were waiting for a friend.

Related: Starbucks will close 8,000 US stores May 29 for racial-bias training

The incident sparked an outcry, and CEO Kevin Johnson swiftly apologized and promised to make sure that nothing like that would happen at a Starbucks again. The anti-bias training is one step toward making good on that promise.

What's happening on Tuesday? Plans for the afternoon session are elaborate.

Workers at each location will break into small groups to learn together. Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, Johnson and musician and activist Common will serve as virtual guides. Employees will talk about their own experiences, and watch a film about bias.

The company explained that each store will get a tool kit to help guide the trainings. Tuesday's session will focus on understanding both racial bias and the history of racial discrimination in public spaces in the United States.

Related: How Starbucks will train its staff to be less biased

Starbucks tapped several experts and researchers to help develop the curriculum, including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos.

Ifill and McGhee, who both served as unpaid advisers, told reporters on a media call on Thursday that they think Starbucks' plan is ambitious.

What else is Starbucks doing? The company has also changed its policy to allow people to use Starbucks' restrooms and spend time in stores, even if they haven't made any purchases. There are limits, however, and employees will still have to use their discretion. Starbucks is asking customers to behave in a way that "maintains a warm and welcoming environment." If customers are disruptive, employees have been advised to step in.

The company offered specific guidelines in a document shared with workers. The list of inappropriate behaviors includes smoking, using drugs or alcohol, sleeping or improperly using the restroom. 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.

Related: Starbucks' new all-are-welcome policy: Now what?

Starbucks advises employees to consider whether they'd be disturbed by the behavior in question if it was coming from a different customer. It also suggests that they consult colleagues to see if they agree the person is being disruptive. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer and respectfully ask him or her to cease the offensive action while another employee watches. If a Starbucks employee thinks the situation isn't safe, he or she should call the police.

The company is reviewing other policies, as well, and Starbucks management received a version of the bias training this week, Ifill told reporters.

What's next? More trainings will follow, though it's unclear if stores will be closed again. And in the next few weeks, Ifill and McGhee will issue a report outlining a comprehensive set of issues they believe the company must address.

They said they hope Starbucks will incorporate anti-bias training into its employee onboarding process to make sure that every employee is trained. They'll also be evaluating the trainings on Tuesday to see how workers respond. The advisers plan to hold Starbucks to a rigorous standard. "We've made it clear that we won't be a rubber stamp to validate their programming," McGhee said.

The company plans to share its materials with the public after the training, and hopes that other businesses will make use of the tools in their own workplaces. It will share more information on Wednesday.

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