Starbucks Corp will close 8,000 company-owned U.S. cafes for the afternoon on May 29, to train their employees on how to prevent racial discrimination in its stores.
Starbucks’ roughly 6,000 licensed cafes will remain open and said it would make training materials available to the employees of those stores, who are employed by the grocery stores or airports where they are located.
The announcement from Starbucks came as it tries to cool racial discriminatory tensions after the arrest of two young black men at one of its cafes in Philadelphia last week. The viral arrests sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain.
Protesters have called for a boycott of the company, in what has become the biggest public relations challenge to date for Chief Executive Kevin Johnson.
Starbucks has not said how many hours the stores would be shuttered during the racial-bias training.
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” said Johnson, who has apologized for the arrests of the two men and taken responsibility for the incident.
Attorneys for the company said Johnson and the two men involved have “engaged in constructive discussions about this issue as well as what is happening in communities across the country.”
While Starbucks has deftly navigated thorny issues such as gay marriage, gun control and Congressional gridlock, U.S. race relations have proven more challenging.
To read more about the Starbucks arrests, click here.
Blogged by Deja Miller