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Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for a few hours to conduct racial-bias education program

The arrest of two black men from a Starbucks (SBUX) Philadelphia café following a white employee’s 911 call, complaining that they were trespassing had triggered national uproar, prompting the company CEO Kevin Johnson to apologize over the incident. Now, to ease the tension further, the coffee company said it would conduct a racial-bias education program for its employees on May 29.

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Starbucks said all its business offices and about 8,000 company-owned coffee shops will remain closed for a few hours next month as it plans to conduct a racial bias training for its staff. The company will also introduce this training as a part of its new employee onboarding process.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities,” Johnson said in a statement.

After the April 12 incident, the company faced widespread criticism and was dubbed anti-black. However, it is not just Starbucks that is struggling with the racism issue. Early this year, Applebee’s fired three employees from its Missouri restaurant for their involvement in a racist incident at the restaurant. H&M — in January this year —  had to temporarily close its stores across South Africa after protesters reacted to the retailer’s online store that showed a black child wearing a sweatshirt with a slogan ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’.

Closing 8,000 stores for a few hours is definitely an expensive task for the coffee company. And this move by Johnson won applauds from several business executives as well as by experts in crisis management.

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