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Starbucks releases details on racial-bias training agenda

Some 175,000 employees will participate in the four-hour, video-based curriculum when 8,000 U.S. stores shutter Tuesday afternoon.

Starbucks on Wednesday unveiled a broad outline of what its employees should expect when its stores close for racial-bias training early next week.

Much of the half-day curriculum will be presented on Tuesday to the coffee giant’s 175,000 employees at some 8,000 stores via a video presentation, which begins with the now-infamous clip of two African-American men being arrested for allegedly trespassing in a Philadelphia store in April.

Each Starbucks store will receive a toolkit that will allow employees to work through the curriculum in small, self-guided groups, the company said. Starbucks will share the training materials with other companies and groups interested in the topic. The company will also make the materials available to licensed stores—such as those in hotels, universities and airports—with the option to present it to their employees in the future. Those licensed units will remain open Tuesday afternoon.

“This is an opportunity to renew our commitment to the ‘third place,’” the narrator of the video says, referencing Starbucks’ position as a community gathering space.

Employees will then see messages from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, as well as founder Howard Schultz, hip-hop performer Common, Starbucks board member Mellody Hobson, store managers and other racial-bias experts.

Starbucks employees in the video share their own, sometimes-difficult experiences:

“When I first started working there, I had to deal with difficult homeless customers all the time,” one man says.

“I found someone in the restroom, shooting up,” a woman says.

Conversation will then move to the history of segregation and public accommodations, including a showing of a new documentary on the topic called “You’re Welcome.”

Starbucks workers will fill out their own “What Makes Me Me and You You” notebooks to further reflect on the conversations.

“But remember, 5/29 will just be a start,” the video’s narrator says. “It won’t be perfect, but we are all in this together.”

Early this week, Starbucks announced it had changed its store policy to make units open to all, regardless of whether they make a purchase.

The coffee chain stands to lose up to $14 million in sales during the half-day closure, according to data from the Transaction Insights platform of Restaurant Business’ research sister, Technomic.

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