SEATTLE -- Weeks after a highly publicized incident in which two black men were arrested while waiting for a business meeting inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, the company closed thousands of stores on Tuesday, May 29, for racial-bias education.
The Seattle-based chain decided to shutter its company-owned locations and corporate offices within the United States to train its nearly 175,000 employees.
A sign on one Chicago store said the location was closing so employees could "reconnect with our mission and share ideas about how to make Starbucks even more welcoming."
Licensed stores that are not owned by Starbucks, including locations at airports, on college and private business campuses and within grocery stores, were not required to close. Starbucks said it will also make its company-commissioned education materials available to those partners.
Starbucks said the training will "address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome." The curriculum was developed through collaboration with representatives from the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations.
"The company's founding values are based on humanity and inclusion," Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz said in an April news release. "We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer."
MarketWatch estimates the closure will cost the chain $12 million in revenue.
Thousands of Starbucks stores close early for company-wide anti-bias training