According to advisors for Starbucks, the company’s May anti-racial bias training in response to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks does not go far enough, and the company should undergo a “civil rights audit” to ensure that all racial bias is weeded out.
On April 12, the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two black men who were loitering in the store and refusing to make a purchase, actions that violate the company’s corporate policy. Philadelphia Police Chief Richard Ross, who also happens to be black, states that the officers who went to the scene asked the men on three different occasions to leave the location, and the men repeatedly refused. It was at that point that the men were arrested, but Starbucks did not file any charges. Conveniently, a video captured the scene, but only from the moment in which the arrest began — it does not capture any of the events leading up to the arrest.
The backlash against the once left-wing bastion was swift and fierce. Critics began calling for boycotts and encouraging others to do the same.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was appalled by the incident, calling it “reprehensible” and apologizing publicly. The company announced that it would close all of its stores on May 29 to allow its employees to attend a training seminar on racial bias, developed by “experts,” including former Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Johnson said in a statement, adding, “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.”
On May 29, 175,000 Starbucks employees received the training. But according to Heather McGhee of the equality advocacy group Demos and Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Education Fund, a more “rigorous evaluation” is necessary to fully eliminate “unconscious bias” from the store.
A new report by McGhee and Ifill released on Monday evaluating the company’s response to the April arrest states that while the May 29 training was somewhat successful, it claims that the surveys completed by participating employees following the training were not adequate enough to measure the outcome of such a large-scale effort. It also claims that Starbucks should have heeded their recommendation to train the employees in regional centers where large groups of employees could gather under the guided instruction of facilitators. Instead, the company opted for self-guided curriculum that small groups followed in each store, which was guided by videos from executives and outside experts.
The Seattle Times reports that the advisors are recommending that the company be examined through a “civil-rights lens,” which will evaluate discrepancies in customer treatment based on background and racial equity in the Starbucks team. All employees, including board members, should be evaluated, they suggest.
The evaluation would include a complete overhaul of policy manuals to prioritize equity, according to the Seattle Times. There would be directions on how to respond to incidents of harassment and discrimination. The company’s “customer bill of rights” should be hung in every Starbucks store, and would now include policies that allow the use of restrooms and stores to all individuals, regardless of whether they are paying customers.
The Daily Wire notes the absurdity of such a policy: “This means Starbucks employees will be forced to interact with homeless individuals streaming in from the streets, including those who are mentally ill and have addiction issues. This essentially turns employees into social workers of sorts, requiring them to seek help from outside groups like the United Way.”
In fact, that is exactly what the advisors are suggesting. Starbucks has partnered with United Way to “give employees options … for connecting those customers with resources rather than calling police.” McGhee calls this a “police alternative” and claims it is “essential” to change the company’s culture.
And while all of this may finally serve to get Starbucks back into the Left’s good graces, it poses problems for customers who go to Starbucks to get some studying or work done, or who just want to enjoy their coffee with some friends. It poses even bigger problems for employees who now have to manage a potentially dangerous population. The new policies could cost Starbucks employees and customers.
But hey, at least the Left is happy. For now.
Photo: AP Images