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How Starbucks' racial bias training went down

Over the course of four hours on Tuesday, 175,000 Starbucks employees talked about racial bias.Across the coun...

Posted: May 30, 2018 9:28 AM
Updated: May 30, 2018 9:28 AM

Over the course of four hours on Tuesday, 175,000 Starbucks employees talked about racial bias.

Across the country, employees participated in a mandatory training. About 8,000 company-owned stores and offices were closed to customers for the afternoon.

In self-guided groups of three to five, workers settled in for an intense afternoon.

Groups moved at their own pace, but their discussions followed a similar structure. With the help of guidebooks distributed throughout the stores,workers took part in sensitive conversations. They watched videos featuring Starbucks executives and musician and activist Common.

Related: What does unconscious bias training look like? I took 3 courses to find out

They reflected by themselves, in pairs and as a group, on the meaning of bias. They privately jotted down thoughts in a customized notebook outfitted with prompts about identity and race. They ran through scenarios that may elicit a biased reaction. They practiced welcoming behaviors, and committed to changing their habits for the better.

The company announced the training soon after two black men were arrested at a store in Philadelphia while waiting for a friend, an incident that Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz called "reprehensible" in an open letter to customers. The letter also ran as a full-page ad in the New York Times, USA Today and two Philadelphia papers.

Starbucks found that "insufficient support and training" and "bias" led a former white employee to call police on the two men, Schultz said.

Related: Howard Schultz: We need to talk about race in America

To develop the training, Starbucks cast a wide net. The afternoon's curriculum was developed by a team of more than 30 experts, including neuroscientists, diversity and inclusion experts and community outreach leaders.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization Demos, and others served as unpaid advisers. Through Ifill, Starbucks reached out to documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who created a seven-minute long film about racial bias for the training.

The short film is licensed to Nelson, who created it independently from Starbucks, a company spokesperson said.

Related: Watch the Starbucks anti-bias training video

Nelson's movie shows people talking about the biases they face every day, and it includes cell phone footage of individuals documenting instances of microaggressions or harassment, including an employee following a black customer through a store. The clips include ones that have gone viral, like a video of lawyer Aaron Schlossberg ranting against people speaking Spanish and one of a horrified passenger reacting to a man being dragged down an airplane aisle by officials.

"We felt it was really important to be as up-to-date as we possibly could," Nelson told CNNMoney, adding that most of the footage shows extreme examples of the types of bias people face every day.

"We tried not to highlight any particular companies," Nelson added.

The training is just one step in making sure that nothing like the arrest ever happens again, the company said. Starbucks recently changed its policy to allow people who haven't made a purchase to spend time in stores or use the bathroom.

Related: Howard Schultz: Training will cost Starbucks 'tens of millions'

And more is coming.

"We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity in America," Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz told CNN's Poppy Harlow on Tuesday. Schultz told CNN that the trainings will be incorporated into employee onboarding, and that the 7,000 licensed stores - including those operated by hotels, grocery stores and airports - that did not participate in the training today will do so over the next year.

Materials from Tuesday's event are being made available to the public. Starbucks hopes that they will be used by other companies conducting similar trainings.

"Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores," Starbucks executive Rossan Williams told employees in a note last week.

Ifill and McGhee plan to issue a report in the next few weeks outlining a comprehensive set of issues they believe the company must address. They'll also be evaluating the trainings on Tuesday to see how workers respond.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348496

Reported Deaths: 7556
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24427446
DeSoto23439283
Harrison21066330
Rankin15704292
Jackson15597252
Madison11114227
Lee10855179
Jones9181169
Forrest8960160
Lauderdale8008244
Lamar719489
Lowndes7167151
Lafayette6604125
Washington5629140
Pearl River5336153
Oktibbeha500998
Bolivar4989134
Warren4803128
Panola4801112
Marshall4725106
Pontotoc451473
Hancock438088
Union437179
Monroe4361137
Neshoba4351181
Lincoln4212116
Pike3711113
Leflore3668125
Tate354688
Alcorn353974
Sunflower350794
Adams345388
Scott344676
Yazoo342476
Copiah329868
Simpson325191
Itawamba316780
Coahoma314985
Tippah312568
Prentiss301863
Covington300184
Marion288681
Leake287875
Wayne280043
George276751
Grenada271388
Newton265964
Tishomingo240370
Winston237884
Stone234138
Jasper233148
Attala228173
Chickasaw220860
Holmes202274
Clay201154
Clarke188180
Tallahatchie185442
Calhoun183032
Smith182635
Yalobusha173141
Walthall149049
Lawrence145226
Greene141835
Amite138643
Noxubee136735
Perry135638
Montgomery133744
Carroll126831
Webster122632
Jefferson Davis118734
Tunica115827
Benton107225
Claiborne105731
Kemper103529
Humphreys101733
Franklin88324
Quitman85619
Choctaw82819
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson71928
Sharkey51818
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 589110

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson856031591
Mobile49268864
Madison37603533
Shelby27362257
Tuscaloosa27208465
Montgomery26252627
Baldwin25567329
Lee17260181
Calhoun15429334
Morgan15199291
Etowah14981370
Marshall13136235
Houston12112293
Elmore10946219
St. Clair10793252
Limestone10750158
Cullman10566205
Lauderdale10266254
DeKalb9517192
Talladega8972188
Walker7817288
Autauga7585114
Jackson7406117
Blount7382139
Colbert6721142
Coffee6382132
Dale5673117
Russell481343
Chilton4785117
Covington4763125
Franklin459081
Tallapoosa4525156
Escambia443883
Chambers3968125
Dallas3749163
Clarke371663
Marion3465107
Pike333079
Lawrence3267100
Winston299373
Bibb290965
Geneva285983
Marengo262767
Barbour252061
Pickens245762
Butler241472
Hale235978
Fayette227265
Henry214845
Monroe203041
Randolph201944
Cherokee199548
Washington185239
Macon170752
Crenshaw169458
Clay166559
Cleburne161545
Lamar151238
Lowndes145855
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa118429
Perry110828
Sumter110433
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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Tuesday will be filled with plenty of sunshine and temperatures will still remain below the normal high temperature for this time of year. Most of the high temperatures on Tuesday will range anywhere from the middle 80s to lower 90s across our area.
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