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The Washington Post reports that just says head of its close of 8,000 stores around the country for several hours to do bias training for its employees, Starbucks offered a preview and said that “May 29 would mark the start of weeks, months and years of discussion among its workforce about gender identity, class, language, citizenship, political views and other personal identifiers.”

The focus on bias training came after two African-American men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks for waiting-while-black - they hadn’t ordered anything while waiting for a friend to arrive. Video of that incident will be shown to employees as part of the training session.

According to the Post story, “The video framed next Tuesday’s training in segments, with introductions by chief executive Kevin Johnson and the artist and activist Common. Chairman Howard Schultz will appear in a video to discuss the Third Place — a gathering space separate from home or work — as an important part of Starbucks’s mission.

“From there, employees will discuss how they define biases, how biases exist within each person and how they have been personally affected by bias. The conversations will be accompanied by video interviews with implicit bias experts and Starbucks board members. Employees will also go through the U.S. legacy of racial discrimination in public spaces and efforts to address it, beginning with the civil rights movement.

“Executives at Starbucks will also outline ‘recommitments’ to company policies and guidelines.”
KC's View:
There are a lot of folks who are saying that Starbucks isn’t doing this right, or that this is just putting on a show for those who believe that the company’s commitment to social issues is an important brand attribute.

I think that this seems completely sincere - while also being a canny business decision - and that they have one thing absolutely right: it is just the start of weeks, months and years of discussion and training.

We can all use training and consciousness-raising. We can all use a little privilege-puncturing. I’m never going to be accused of waiting-while-black, or driving-while-black or walking-while-black. And nobody ever gets accused of waiting-while-white, or driving-while-white, or walking-while-white.

Good for Starbucks.