STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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 10:28 AM
Updated: May 30, 2018 10:28 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
Bartholomew48634
Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
Delaware35936
Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
White2288
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
Harrison18821
Dubois1852
Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
Franklin1068
Kosciusko971
Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
Newton7410
Wabash732
Fayette714
Jasper621
LaGrange622
Washington521
Fulton471
Jay460
Randolph453
Rush452
Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
Pulaski400
Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 114306

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook745213455
Lake7845270
DuPage7350347
Kane5947162
Will5279264
Winnebago200152
McHenry147569
St. Clair103573
Kankakee80843
Kendall73619
Rock Island63823
Champaign5807
Madison54457
Boone41016
Sangamon33727
DeKalb3343
Randolph2644
Jackson24210
McLean21513
Out of IL2051
Stephenson1942
Ogle1932
Macon18919
Peoria1888
Clinton17817
Union1437
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1314
Coles11912
Warren1130
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9311
Grundy882
McDonough837
Lee761
Tazewell693
Cass680
Henry670
Williamson572
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin431
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion371
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess310
Livingston312
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Carroll142
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
Robinson
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Rockville
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 65°
Casey
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Brazil
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
Marshall
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
More Rain Thursday
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events