More than 8,000 Starbucks company-owned stores and offices across the U.S. will close in the afternoon on May 29 for a conversation and learning session on race, bias and the building of a diverse welcoming company. On May 23, the company shared a preview of the May 29 curriculum, which serves as a step in a long-term journey to make Starbucks even more welcoming and safe for all.
As Starbucks executive vice president, U.S. Retail, Rossann Williams shared in a note to all U.S. partners yesterday:
“Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores. After May 29, we will make the curriculum available to the public and share it with the regions as well as our licensed and business partners. Starbucks is a company built on nurturing the human spirit, and it’s on us to harness our scale and expertise to do right by the communities we serve. May 29 isn’t a solution, it’s a first step. By educating ourselves on understanding bias and how it affects our lives and the lives of the people we encounter and serve, we renew our commitment to making the third place welcoming and safe for everyone.”
Curriculum advisers Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, are among many, including researchers, social scientists, and Starbucks own partners, who have provided their advice, counsel, connections to other experts and recommendations to the company for the May 29 training. The day’s curriculum will set the foundation for a longer-term Starbucks anti-bias, diversity, equity and inclusion effort.
Recognizing that there are many ways to deliver racial bias training, Starbucks worked with advisers and experts to come up with a collaborative and engaging experience for store partners to learn together in a way that is right for the values and scale of the company. From the design of the curriculum, to new technology being deployed to stores, the company is investing in each store so that the experience for all partners is meaningful and significant on May 29 and beyond. Each store will receive a tool kit, which will allow for partners to learn together in small self-guided groups. This first training will focus on understanding racial bias and the history of public accommodations in the United States, with future trainings addressing all aspects of bias and experiences.
Starbucks will share training content and curriculum with other companies, organizations and individuals interested in training their audiences. The company will also share a new original film by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a producer, director, and writer of documentary films and videos examining African American history and experiences.
While Starbucks is closing all 8,000-plus company operated Starbucks stores on May 29, most of its 7,000 licensed stores, like those operated by major grocery stores, hotels, universities or airports, are expected to remain open. Starbucks is sharing its training content with its licensed business partners, so they may have the option to make it available to their employees at a later date.