Starbucks Corp cannot afford bad publicity, therefore, is closing 8,000 U.S. stores during the typically slow afternoon hours as a first step in training 175,000 employees on racial tolerance. The employees of 6,000 licensed Starbucks cafes in locations such as grocery stores and airports will be trained later.
The afternoon hour’s closure is expected to cost Starbucks $5 million to $7 million in lost business. But Starbucks anti-bias training hopefully it will reinvigorate decades-old efforts to ensure minorities get equal treatment in restaurants and stores, setting an example for other corporations.
“We determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police,” Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said.
The Philadelphia arrests on April 12 sparked protests and accusations of racial profiling at the Starbucks chain, which is known for its liberal stances on social issues such as same-sex marriage.
The move has renewed speculation that Schultz is paving the way for a U.S. presidential bid, something he has repeatedly denied. But he appeared to be more open to the idea of a political office in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
“I want to be as involved as I possibly can as a citizen to help the country,” he said. “I don’t know what that’s going to mean in the future.”
Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru.