Inside Starbucks' racial-bias training, developed by rapper Common and Obama's former attorney general who Uber hired when it was in crisis mode


Starbucks is closing 8,000 stores across the United States on Tuesday for racial-bias training.

The move was triggered by the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks location on April 12. Minutes after arriving for a business meeting, Rashon Nelson asked to use the restroom without having ordered any food or drinks.

A white store manager responded by calling 9-1-1 on Nelson and his friend Donte Robinson. Witnesses said the two men “didn’t do anything.” Footage of the arrest quickly went viral, sparking a national backlash against the chain over racial profiling.

Since footage of the arrest went viral, Starbucks has been grappling with its treatment of people of colour and questions of unconscious racial bias at the chain. The company announced that all 8,000 company-owned locations would close on Tuesday afternoon for a training to address these issues.

The training will be internal and closed to the public, but Starbucks has released some information about what will happen. Here is what we know.

What the training will discuss

Starbucks Store Closed for TrainingStarbucks

Starbucks’ training is a mix of education, discussions of employees’ personal experiences with bias, and instruction on how to apply learnings to Starbucks.

From the more educational side, employees will watch clips from Stanley Nelson’s new documentary, “You’re Welcome,” as well as hear from experts at the anti-bias organisation the Perception Institute. Executive chairman Howard Schultz will talk about the “third place,” or Starbucks’ position as part of welcoming community, as well as his “hopes and dreams” for the company’s future.

Starbucks also wants workers to have a “real and honest exploration of bias,” looking to their own lives.

“This first training will focus on understanding racial bias and the history of public accommodations in the United States, with future trainings addressing all aspects of bias and experiences,” Starbucks said in a statement.

After Tuesday, Starbucks will also share all training materials so that other organisations can adapt and use them.

Who created the training

Starbucks consulted a long list of experts in creating the training. Those involved include:

  • The Perception Institute
  • Heather McGhee, president of public policy organisation Demos
  • Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the racial injustice nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative
  • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defence and Education Fund
  • Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who also previously served as a legal advisor to Barack Obama and conducted an internal investigation during Uber’s culture crisis
  • Common, a rapper, artist, author, and activist

When the training will be

A Starbucks spokesperson told Business Insider that the closures start around 2:00 p.m., beginning at slightly different times across the US. Most closures appear to be starting at around 2:30 p.m. local time, according to Starbucks’ website.

The stores will remain closed for the rest of the day as employees go through training on racial biases. Starbucks locations will open with normal hours on Wednesday.

You can check your local Starbucks’ hours on the company’s website.

Read more about Starbucks’ closures:

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