Starbucks closes over 8,000 stores for anti-bias training

Posted: Updated:
BRONXVILLE -

Starbucks temporarily closed thousands of stores Tuesday to conduct racial sensitivity training.

The closure follows the fallout over the arrest of two black men at one of its shops in Philadelphia in April.

Company officials immediately apologized and ordered up racial bias training for its 175,000 employees to help them better serve their customers.

The Starbucks in Bronxville was one of about 8,000 across the nation to close up shop so the employees could take a class on race, bias and cultural sensitivity.

Racial bias training, or diversity training, has been around for decades. Some call it controversial, and some studies done by prominent social scientists suggest it doesn't actually work.

Jerima Dewese, the chief diversity officer at Purchase College, disagrees. She insists she's seen firsthand that it can be effective under the right circumstances.

“You have to have dialogue that's going to cross boundaries and cross many structures of understanding,” she says.

Dewese has seen it work on campus and believes it can work at Starbucks as long as it’s understood that the training is not a quick fix.

“This type of training works when there is commitment, when it’s continual and when there's an understanding that you have to have uncomfortable conversations,” she says.

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