American coffee chain Starbucks is set to close all of its 8,000 company-owned US stores on 29 May to conduct racial-bias training to its employees.
The move by the company is in the wake of the recent racial discrimination incident that occurred at one of its stores in Philadelphia, whereby two black men were arrested while waiting in the coffee store.
The education programme is aimed at preventing discrimination in the company’s stores and will include nearly 175,000 partners across the country.
Issues to be addressed under the programme include implicit bias, discrimination prevention, conscious inclusion promotion and assurance of a safety environment for customers.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said: “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.
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. 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.”
National and local experts confronting racial bias will assist the coffee chain in developing the curriculum for the programme by monitoring and reviewing the measures involved.
Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz said: “We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”
The company will make the education materials available for other companies, including their licensee partners, after completing the training at its company-owned locations.