Starbucks to close Tuesday afternoon for racial bias training

READ MORE A new policy at Starbucks People can sit without buying anything

Starbucks said it is shutting down all its US locations - more than 8,000 stores across the country - Tuesday, May 29, in the afternoon for a company-wide racial bias education day. Signage posted at several stores and listings on the company's website indicate that many locations will close for the day at 2:30 p.m. local time, though hours vary from store to store.

The plan covers only Starbucks-operated stores; almost all of the 7,000 Starbucks-licensed coffee shops - in places like supermarkets, hotels, and airports - are likely to remain open, the company says.

Starbucks' training could have a lasting impact on its employees' behavior and pave the way for other companies to finally tackle racism in their own eateries and shops, said Heather McGhee, president of public policy group Demos. Workers will also view a short documentary film.

Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing.

Starbucks has since announced anyone can use its restrooms even if they are not buying anything.

The training is meant to help Starbucks navigate the challenges of being the "third place" that its leaders have often spoken about - the place where people spend time outside of work and their home.

A Starbucks spokesman said Tuesday's training is part of a bigger commitment to anti-bias education.

Starbucks Executive Vice President, U.S. Retail, Rossann Williams shared a preview of the course and learning to all U.S. partners in which he mentioned that in the learning session and discussions will make a difference in their stores. The men, who had previously asked for the code needed to gain access to the store's restroom, said they were waiting for a friend.

Starbucks has planned an elaborate racial bias training session for its employees.

More than 8,000 Starbucks stores will shut down for a few hours Tuesday afternoon so that all employees can receive this training.

Starbucks apologized for the incident, which sparked protests, online outrage, and calls for both clarifications of the chain's policies and for new training for its employees. "Starbucks' employees will continue to operate in an environment that reinforces racial disparities", they wrote.

A guide advises staff to consider whether the actions they take would apply to any customer in the same situation. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer and respectfully ask him or her to cease the offensive action while another employee watches.

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