Starbucks Employees Undergo Training

By Waldman, Ben | Winnipeg Free Press, June 12, 2018 | Go to article overview

Starbucks Employees Undergo Training


Waldman, Ben, Winnipeg Free Press


All company-run Starbucks locations in Canada closed Monday afternoon while employees received mandatory anti-bias training, a decision the company made after the manager of a Philadelphia store called police on two black men who were at the coffee shop waiting for a friend in April.

“The reprehensible event in Philadelphia prompted us to reflect, and led to this day,” Starbucks Canada president Michael Conway wrote in an open letter.

After the two Philadelphia men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, arrived, they asked to use the bathroom and were told it was only for customers. When they declined to order, police were called, and the men were led out of the restaurant and arrested. Video of the incident circulated and led to calls for boycotts of the company, which later offered the men a settlement. On May 29, 8,000 American Starbucks were closed for sensitivity training.

In a media sneak peek of the training, the Seattle-based company said the sessions will begin with a video message from Conway, where he notes that “you may think this does not relate to us in Canada, but it does. The world is changing and we are not immune to the complexities or biases and neither are our customers or our communities.”

Conway said Starbucks locations grapple with issues around homelessness, language barriers and “Canadians that simply appear very different from one of us,” but he believes the training will “only strengthen our resolve to make sure every customer feels welcome every time.”

Following his introduction, employees will break into groups of between three and five people to go through a 68-page book of exercises.

The materials ask employees to discuss the first time they noticed their “racial identity,” “had a friend of a different race who regularly visited your home,” “felt distracted at work because of external events related to race” and “went to work with your natural hair without comments or questions from others.”

The training discusses different types of bias, including systemic and implicit, and situational videos with titles like “Woman in dirty sweatpants lingering near the retail cups.” The exercise book references biases against black people, but doesn’t refer directly to bias against other people of colour — including Indigenous people, LGBTTQ* people or people living with disabilities. …

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