Is four hours enough to tackle racial bias?

Philadelphia Police Arrest Of Two Black Men In Starbucks Prompts Apology From Company's CEO

Philadelphia Police Arrest Of Two Black Men In Starbucks Prompts Apology From Company's CEO

"It's a little overcast, but it will be a great day!"

When a construction worker from outside walked in without making a purchase and asked for a code to the bathroom, a barista quickly obliged, adding, "You're welcome".

A viral video over the alleged inappropriate arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month sparked more outrage over racism and America and the coffee maker has countered with "unconscious bias training" for all of their stores.

The day of training, which affected 175,000 Starbucks employees in 8,000 US stores, comes in response to the highly publicized incident in April in a Philadelphia store, where two black customers were arrested and accused of trespassing while waiting for a business meeting.

Dixon, who is black, said the initial incident came as a surprise to him as he is a regular in the Rittenhouse Square location, where he had always found the staff friendly.

Starbucks also created a new policy following the incident, now allowing anyone, a paying customer or not, to use the restrooms. "They have to put different people in their stores", he said, acknowledging that Starbucks admitted to its problems and responded to them.

8,000 Starbucks are closing today for racial sensitivity training.

Unfortunately, fear and ignorance are largely responsible for fueling racial profiling and discrimination, a misperception that can be made unsafe by people's tendency to involve law enforcement in situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

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An alliance of researchers called the Perception Institute, which is consulting with Starbucks, says implicit biases are attitudes or stereotypes toward people without being conscious of it.

Schultz said some shareholders questioned the cost of the training, which Bloomberg estimated could total around $16.7 million in lost revenue, but he likened the spending to providing health care or tuition help for employees.

One afternoon wouldn't really be "moving the needle on the biases", he said, especially since Starbucks has so many employees and they may not stay very long.

"Time and time, I've seen how diversity training sessions can be stressful for Black employees in these kinds of settings because they are the visible minorities in most organizations and are weighing a lot of emotions-self-consciousness, irritation, anger or just plain frustration", said the author, who spoke with Black employees over several years while writing "Working While Black".

The company pledged to integrate further trainings in the United States and around the world.

Starbucks said the arrests never should have occurred.

There were nationwide protests and boycotts, and the city of Philadelphia also ended up settling with the men-the two got a symbolic $1 each, plus a promise of a $200,000 education program for young entrepreneurs. "Starbucks started something for a day, and I commend them, but this is not just about Starbucks".

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