Why Is Starbucks Closed on May 29? Everything You Need to Know About Employees' Special Training
If you plan to pull up to your local Starbucks drive-thru on May 29 hoping for an iced latte or caramel macchiato, don't expect anyone to take your order.
More than 8,000 Starbucks locations will be closed on Tuesday afternoon, but worry not, because the temporary shutdown is happening with good purpose.
Read on for a breakdown of what is happening and why.
Why is Starbucks closed?
The stores are temporarily closing for four hours so that employees can receive anti-bias training in light of a Philadelphia Starbucks manager calling the police on Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, two black men who were waiting in a store for a friend last month.
In an open letter to customers Tuesday, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz called the situation "reprehensible," and explained that the subsequent arrest of Nelson and Robinson caused the company to realize that they had provided "insufficient support and training" to employees when it came to bias.
Their solution? Mandatory anti-bias training, taking place on—you guessed it—Tuesday afternoon. Schultz called this step the start of a "new chapter" in Starbucks history.
Wait, what is "anti-bias training"?
"Anti-bias training" in this corporate context refers to a curriculum designed to help employees identify and halt prejudices—particularly racial ones. Racial bias is a form of implicit bias, which is defined as "the brain’s automatic, instantaneous association of stereotypes and attitudes with particular groups ... These biases exist beyond our conscious awareness and are often contrary to our conscious values and ideals."
Basically, the training is meant to help employees to not recreate unjust and bias-based circumstances like the Nelson and Robinson arrests. The New York Anti-Defamation League explains that general anti-bias training gives the learners better knowledge, awareness, and skills to respond to discrimination and create a safe environment for all.
Starbucks only echoed this sentiment.
"What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do," Schultz explained. "This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners."
But what concrete activities will Starbucks employees do, exactly?
While the full curriculum of the training will only be released after the fact, Starbucks did clue outsiders in on what to expect.
The company announced that the afternoon will involve tool kits that will let employees learn in small self-guided groups, and a film by Stanley Nelson called "You're Welcome." According to ABC, the training will also included recorded remarks from Starbucks executives and the rapper Common, and afterwards, employees will break into small groups to discuss how bias comes up in their work lives.
The first training (of several) will focus around understanding racial bias and the United States's history of public accommodations.
What is Starbucks's goal for the training?
“Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores," Starbucks executive vice president, U.S. Retail, Rossann Williams said in a statement.
"After May 29, we will make the curriculum available to the public and share it with the regions as well as our licensed and business partners ... May 29 isn’t a solution, it's a first step. By educating ourselves on understanding bias and how it affects our lives and the lives of the people we encounter and serve, we renew our commitment to making the third place welcoming and safe for everyone.”
VIDEO: Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz Pens An Open Letter on Racial Tensions
Are Nelson and Robinson involved in the training?
The company has not given word yet on whether or not Nelson and Robinson are involved in the training, though the two previously said they were open to taking part in it.
When will Starbucks stores re-open again?
Stores will be closed for 3-4 hours beginning at 1 or 2 p.m. across the United States.