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Starbucks Closing Shops Tuesday for Anti-Bias Training

Check twice before you go to your closest Starbucks for your afternoon coffee today.

The American coffee chain is closing over 8,000 locations Tuesday afternoon for anti-bias training — including shops here in Southwest Florida.

After a quick search on the Starbucks location app, most of the shops around town will close at 2:30 p.m. for training. Locations inside Target stores and the local airport seem to be staying open until normal hours.

The bias training will take place for a few hours. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an open letter addressing the topic:

For several hours this afternoon, Starbucks will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome.

What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do. This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners.

Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company. We want this to be an open and honest conversation starting with our partners. We will also make the curriculum available to the public.

The training is in response to a situation that happened at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. A Starbucks manager called the police a few minutes after two black men arrived at a store an sat waiting for a friend. They had not yet purchased anything when police were called, according to a note from Schultz. When the police arrived they arrested the two men.

HelloSWFL attempted to talk with human resources professionals about bias training, but could not find anyone to speak Tuesday.

“Ultimately do I think it’s going to help the situation by doing this bias training, of course not,” Michael Rodriguez, a Starbucks customer who lives in Fort Myers, said. “Anybody who is interested in discriminating towards someone on the basis of their skin color is going to do so irrespective of whether or not they have to sit down for an hour and listen to their employer talk.”

Additional reporting by Bo Evans