Starbucks said today it will close more than 8,000 company-own stores across the nation to train its staff on how to avoid “racial bias” after the arrest of two black men at one of its Philadelphia shops, an incident the coffee giant’s CEO called “reprehensible.”
The training is scheduled for the afternoon of May 29 and will be geared toward “preventing discrimination in our stores,” Starbucks said.
Nearly 170,000 Starbucks employees are expected to go through the training, which will become part of the onboarding process for new workers, the company said in a statement.
“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,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks chief executive officer, said in a statement.
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” Johnson said. “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.”
The announcement came as the city of Philadelphia has launched an investigation into additional “informal complaints” at a downtown Starbucks shop where witnesses said two black men were arrested for doing nothing more than sitting at a table.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that the city’s Commission on Human Relations will look into other reported instances at the Centre City area shop.
“The PCHR has received informal complaints about the specific Starbucks location since the matter arose,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday. “Any information regarding these complaints are part of our current investigation, and thus are deemed confidential.”