Thousands of Starbucks close nationwide for anti-bias training

Updated: May. 29, 2018 at 6:38 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Starbucks closed 8,000 across the country Tuesday for anti-racial bias training.

"What we're doing today is historic. There's no company in America that has ever done anything quite like this," CEO and Founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz said.

"I think it is making a large statement. You know, again, unprecedented. I've never heard of this before In terms of I mean, shutting down business to make sure that this doesn't happen again," Ashraf Esmail said.

This is the company's response after a video went viral capturing two black men arrested in at a Starbucks in Philadelphia while waiting for a friend.

"I did think it was completely unfair for a worker to call the cops on two people who were just hanging out. It shouldn't have happened in the first place and there shouldn't be any bias," Elizabeth Alvarado said.

Up to 180,000 employees took part in this training.

"I think that it's a good and beneficial thing for them to do if bias really does exist," Matt Moore said.

"That's a big loss of revenue for the company. So it's a big financial hit for them to take, so I think they're taking this pretty seriously," Assistant Professor of Economics, Patrick Button said.

Starbucks Founder and CEO Howard Schultz said the company anticipates losing tens of millions of dollars by closing in the middle of the day.

"But then also that's part of the bottom line too because if you're not a good player in society, then you're going to lose customers," Button said.

Starbucks didn't give specifics about today's training, but did release a video on its website that laid out its goal of inclusion.

"It's unbelievable how much we think, our thought processes in terms of stereotypes, they do occur, and it's just unconscious," Esmail said.

Schultz said this is just the beginning of a series of training.

"I can't see this fixing the issue, but I think it's an important small step in the right direction," Button said.

"This is a very big sign. It's almost as if say the NFL decided I'm not going to play games today because I want to demonstrate why people are standing or not standing for the national anthem. That's the kind of magnitude to me it looks like," Esmail said.

Both Button and Esmail believe this will set an example for other companies, and bring up an important conversation nation-wide about identifying and preventing racial biases.

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