Starbucks Closing More Than 8,000 Stores Tuesday Afternoon For Anti-Bias Training

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Starbucks said it is shutting down all its USA locations - more than 8,000 stores across the country - Tuesday, May 29, in the afternoon for a company-wide racial bias education day.

The training is part of Starbucks' efforts to overhaul the company's image following the April arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia location.

Starbucks's workers will be taught about the history of the civil rights movement, and break off into small groups to figure out how bias might manifest in their behavior. The training will include a documentary film and video messages from Starbucks executives and rapper Common, as well as a discussion among store employees about their own experiences with bias.

The incident sparked protests and hurt Starbucks' reputation, but its pledge to close stores while it trained its employees on racial bias is "unprecedented", said Heather McGhee, president of left-leaning think tank Demos and who provided pro bono advice to Starbucks about the training.

Starbucks has put information about hours of its stores Tuesday on its website and mobile app. Closure hours due to the training are often posted along with hours for most licensed stores.

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Starbucks has also changed its policy to allow people to use its restrooms and spend time in stores, even if they haven't made any purchases.

Many retailers including Walmart and Target said they already offer some racial bias training.

"It's not really going to be enough if they stop here", Konte said. They were sitting in the store without ordering anything as they waited for a friend when the cops were called.

They also reached a deal with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. That's where the bias training comes in. "We are here to make sure Starbucks is a place where everyone, everyone feels welcome", says CEO Kevin Johnson in the video. The guidelines encourage workers to ask if they would take the considered action with any customer, to verify the perceived situation with a co-worker and to dial 911 if the situation becomes unsafe.

The company found that "insufficient support and training" and "bias" led a former white employee to call police on the two men, Schultz said.

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