Is Starbucks Racial Bias Training the Best Move?
Recently, two black males who entered a Philadelphia Starbucks were arrested as they were waiting for colleagues to arrive for a business meeting. The chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, wrote a public apology which was placed in the New York Times, USA Today, and two Philadelphia newspapers in addition to a call to action against racial biases. Biases can be implicit or explicit; that is, they can be unintentional or intentional. It is imperative to recognize both types of biases for the most beneficial outcomes.
Starbucks decided their response to this employee's racial bias was the establishment of a racial bias training in their over 8,000 U.S. stores. For an afternoon, all Starbucks stores were closed and their 175,000+ employees underwent a meticulously designed training. This training was designed by over 30 professionals from a range of different fields such as neuroscience, diversity and inclusion, and community outreach. The training included a short documentary, writing exercises, small group activities, and recent examples of harassment, micro-aggressions, prejudice, and racism.
Although Schultz recognizes that an afternoon training is not going to reverse racism throughout the country, he hopes this is a step in the right direction. Schultz wants these training sessions to prevent future acts of implicit racial biases, such as the arrest of the two men in Philadelphia. Starbucks is releasing the training's curriculum so that other companies and individuals can utilize them in the hopes of reducing racial biases as well.
Starbucks, as an organization, acknowledged their employee's mistake and unpreparedness and acted proactively to decrease the likelihood of racial biases happening in the future. I believe this is a step in the right direction, and they took the proper steps (i.e. displaying up-to-date examples, making the training mandatory for all employees, gathering professionals' opinions) to execute their trainings.
What do you think? What more can be done to reduce implicit and explicit racial biases in the workplace?