Local Starbucks locations closed on Wednesday to take part in a company-wide anti-bias training.
The training was sparked after an incident April 12 in Philadelphia where two black men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were arrested while sitting inside the coffee shop waiting on a friend.
Robinson, Nelson and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson reached a settlement the first week of May that will “allow both sides to move forward and continue to talk and explore means of preventing similar occurrences at any Starbucks location,” according to a news release the company issued.
The Log Cabin Democrat reached out to several Conway locations, but at each, was referred to the company’s press department.
A Starbucks Media Relations employee, who went only by Gaby, told the LCD in an email that the company’s decision to close the stores for the racial bias learning and education stemmed from the April occurrence and that it wanted to engage in race first.
Employees totaling 175,000 and more gathered together Tuesday to hear from each other, listen to experts on bias and racial anxiety, reflect on the society realities around the topic and discuss how each of them can work together to create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong, according to the day’s curriculum.
“This was a foundational step in renewing Starbucks as a place where ALL people feel welcome,” the curriculum reads.
During the training, groups of three to five workers were given a team guidebook, which included the company’s mission and values, an agenda for the day, a framework to follow and a private notebook for trainees to use to reflect.
The day had three ground rules: listen respectively, speak your truth and honor each other’s truths and if conversations get off track, pause and restart.
The more 40-page document encouraged employees to look at how they seem themselves, recall the first time they experienced their racial identity and at belonging, bias, categorization and discrimination.
“Over the next months and years, we will go into different forms of bias by adding more learning sessions on understanding bias, inclusion, use of third place, leadership, among other topics,” Gaby said. “As we have said, May 29 is one stop in a long-term journey. For longer term efforts, Starbucks will also consult with a diverse array of organizations and civil rights experts — including The Anti-Defamation League, The Leadership Conference on Cilvil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, and representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and others.
“We will continually assess our progress and remain open to engaging with other groups as merited.”
To view the day's full curriculum, visit www.starbuckschannel.com/thethirdplace.